Heather Williams MA, MSt, DPhil

Position: Research Fellow, European Travellers to Wales: 1750-2010' project
e-mail: h.williams@wales.ac.uk
Tel.: 01970 636543
Fax: 01970 639090
Postal address:

Dr Heather Williams,
University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies,
National Library of Wales,
SY23 3HH

Heather Williams joined the Centre in 2007 as Pilcher Senior Fellow. She is currently working on the 'European Travellers to Wales: 1750-2010' project. This allows her to combine her experience in French literature with Celtic Studies. After graduating in Modern Languages (French) from St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, she completed her D.Phil. there on Stéphane Mallarmé, and then went on to hold posts at the Universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Aberystwyth.

Research interests:

  • Travel writing, especially in relation to postcolonialism and translation studies; travellers to Brittany and to Wales from Romanticism onwards.
  • Translation and cultural exchange between Welsh, English, French and Breton.  Specifically, she has worked on translation between French and Breton, especially in the 1830s and the 1960s and 1970s, and on translation into Welsh during the 1790s. 
  • Ecocriticism, especially in conjunction with postcolonial theory, and as it relates to Brittany and Wales from Romanticism to the present day.
  • Brittany, the representation of Brittany in French-language literature both from Brittany and from the mainstream French tradition. Her Postcolonial Brittany: Literature Between Languages (2007) investigates the space between the two languages of modern-day Brittany through a series of close readings of literary texts that represent Brittany or Bretonness in the French language.
  • Postcolonial literary criticism as it relates to Celtic countries or regions.
  • French poetry, especially Stéphane Mallarmé. Her Mallarmé’s Ideas in Language (2004) is a series of close readings of Mallarmé’s poetry and theoretical work that investigate his ideas in language rather than his ideas on language. The book argues that his way of embedding ideas in verbal textures earns him a place not just in the history of poetry, but also in the history of philosophy, and of the discourse of critical theory.

Completed projects

  • Cultural changes and exchanges: Brittany and Wales / Bretagne/pays de Galles : quand les chemins se croisent et se décroisent
    Dr Heather Williams was British team leader of this joint project, which was funded by the British Council and the Ministère des Affaires étrangères (Partenariats Hubert Curien), and aimed to develop stronger links between the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS) and the Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique (CRBC), Brittany. See details of our joint workshops here. A volume of essays based on the workshops was published in 2013.  

current PROJECTS 

  • European Travellers to Wales 1750-2010
    This is a collaborative AHRC-funded project, that began on 1 June 2013. Details  here.

Selected publications


Postcolonial Brittany: Literature Between Languages (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007), 191pp.

Mallarmé’s Ideas in Language (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2004), 175pp.

Barddoniaeth i Bawb? Stéphane Mallarmé [Poetry for all? Stéphane Mallarmé] ([Aberystwyth]: Cronfa Goffa Saunders Lewis, 1998), 64pp. This is a work of literary criticism for the reader with a background in Welsh literature. It also contains some of my own translations of Mallarmé’s verse into Welsh.

Edited collections:

Regards croisés sur la Bretagne et le pays de Galles/ Cross-Cultural Essays on Wales and Brittany, ed. Anne Hellegouarc’h and Heather Williams (Brest: CRBC, 2013)

Studies in Travel Writing, ed. Kathryn Jones, Carol Tully and Heather Williams, 18:2 (2014)

Articles and chapters in books:

‘Rousseau and Romanticism in Wales’, in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and British Romanticism, ed. Russell Goulbourne and David Higgins (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), pp. 75-90.  

‘Translating Bretonness – colonizing Brittany’, Translation and the Arts in Modern France, ed. Sonya Stephens (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017), 30-44. 

‘Cartrefoli’r Chwyldro: Cyfieithu ar gyfer y Cymry uniaith yn y 1790au’, in Ysgrifau Beirniadol 34, ed. Angharad Price (Bethesda: Gwasg Gee, 2016), pp. 45-66.

'Iolo Morganwg, Edward Williams and the radically bilingual text: Poems Lyric and Pastoral (1794); International Journal of Welsh Writing in English, 2 (2014), 147-67. This artical won the M Wynn Thomas Price 2015.

with Kathryn Jones and Carol Tully, ‘Introduction: Wales and Travel Writing’, Studies in Travel Writing, ed. Kathryn Jones, Carol Tully and Heather Williams, 18:2 (2014). 

‘Introduction: Cultural Changes and Exchanges: Brittany and Wales’, in Regards croisés sur la Bretagne et le pays de Galles/ Cross-Cultural Essays on Wales and Brittany, ed. Anne Hellegouarc’h et Heather Williams (Brest: CRBC, 2013), pp. 27-35

‘Pour une éco-poétique de la Bretagne: la nature comme cliché dans les littératures bretonnes’, in Regards croisés sur la Bretagne et le pays de Galles/ Cross-Cultural Essays on Wales and Brittany, ed. Anne Hellegouarc’h et Heather Williams (Brest: CRBC, 2013), pp. 129-44.

‘Cymru trwy lygaid Rousseau (ac eraill)’ [‘Wales through the eyes of Rousseau (and others’], Y Traethodydd, CLXVIII (2013), 241-54

'Rousseau and Wales', in 'Footsteps of liberty and revolt': Essays on Wales and the French Revolution, ed. Mary-Ann Constantine and Dafydd Johnston (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 2013), pp. 35-51.

'Cymru, y Chwyldro Ffrengig a Gwyn Alff Williams: Ailasesu'r dystiolaeth', Llên Cymru 35 (2012), 181-85.

'Chwedlau ac arferion marwolaeth Llydaw', Llên Cymru, 34 (2011), 216-25.

‘Translating Bretonness – colonizing Brittany’, ed. Sonya Stephens (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) Translation and the Arts in Modern France.

'"Me zo bet sklav": African Americans and Breton Literature', Comparative American Studies on ‘The Celts and the African Americas’, 8:2 (2010), 126-39.

‘Between French and Breton: the politics of translation’, Romance Studies , 27:3 (2009), 223–33. [PDF ]

‘Ecofeirniadaeth i’r Celtiaid’, Llenyddiaeth Mewn Theori , 3 (2008) [2009], 1–28.

‘Ar drywydd Celtigrwydd: Auguste Brizeux’ [In Search of Celticity: Auguste Brizeux], Y Traethodydd , CLXI (2006), 34–50.

‘Celtomania’, in Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia , ed. John T. Koch (5 vols., Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2006).

‘Writing to Paris: poets, nobles, and savages in nineteenth-century Brittany’, French Studies , 57 (2003), 475–90.

Séparisianisme or internal colonialism’, in Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction , ed. by Charles Forsdick and David Murphy (London: Arnold, 2003), pp. 102–11.

‘Une sauvagerie très douce’, in Visions/ Revisions: Essays on Nineteenth-Century French Culture , ed. by Nigel Harkness, Paul Rowe, Tim Unwin, Jennifer Yee(Oxford: Peter Lang, 2003), pp. 99–106.

‘Diffinio Llydaw’ [Defining Brittany], Y Traethodydd ,CLVII (2002), 197–208.

‘Mallarmé and the language of ideas’, Nineteenth-Century French Studies , 29 (2001), 302–17.

‘Mallarmé’s early correspondence: the language of crisis’, Romance Studies , 19 (2001), 148–59.

‘Dafydd ap Gwilym and the debt to Europe’, Études celtiques , 34 (1998–2000), 185–213.

‘Mallarmé dans la critique littéraire galloise’, Revue d’études françaises , 5 (2000), 109–15.

‘La Pensée corporelle de Mallarmé’, Vives Lettres , 9 (2000), 109–22.

‘Diffinio dwy lenyddiaeth Llydaw’ [Defining the two literatures of Brittany], Tu Chwith , 12 (1999), 51–6.

‘Taliesin, l’Alexandre gallois, le retour de la cynghanedd ’, in Formules: Revue des littératures à contraintes , 2 (1998), 85–95.

‘Barddoniaeth i bawb o bobl y byd: cabledd?’ [Poetry for all: heresy?], Taliesin , 95 (1996), 56–62.

Heather has reviewed books for Barn , Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies , French Studies , Modern and Contemporary France , New Welsh Review , New Zealand Journal of French Studies , and Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Annales: Histoire, Sciences sociales, and Planet