Wes Williams

Wes Williams is the Director of TORCH, Professor of French Literature at the University of Oxford, and also a Fellow in Modern Languages at St Edmund Hall.
His main research interests are in the field of Renaissance studies; the critical study of genre and subjectivity; and the intersection of theory and practice in the literary, political, religious, and professional cultures of the early modern period. He also works on contemporary theory and film. Alongside award-winning work writing and directing for the theatre, he has also contributed to a number of radio broadcasts and films.
His first book – Pilgrimage and Narrative in the French Renaissance: ‘The Undiscovered Country’ (OUP, 1999) – was the first full-length study of the place of the Jerusalem pilgrimage in European Renaissance culture. He continues to work on narratives of travel and encounter, displacement and diaspora throughout the early modern period.
His second major study, Monsters and their Meanings in Early Modern Culture; Mighty Magic (OUP, 2012) explores the cultural, medical, and theological significance of monsters from Rabelais to Racine — by way of Montaigne, Shakespeare, Titian, Pascal, Corneille, and a host of others. Political monsters (from Nero to the present) are a focus of his most recent work in this field.
He is currently writing a short Life of Rabelais, an account of the strange case of Magdeleine d’Auvermont, and a study of the long, enduring history of ‘voluntary servitude’. 


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