Thesis Title: The Materiality of Women’s Texts, 1580-1760: Production, Transmission, and Reception
Supervisors: Prof. Adam Smyth & Prof. Christine Gerrard
Research Interests: History of the Book, Women's Writing (1550-1830), Material Culture, Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth
Ben Wilkinson-Turnbull is a D.Phil student and Clarendon Scholar at St Anne's College, University of Oxford. His doctoral research focuses on the materiality of women’s writing between 1580 and 1760. The varied methods of textual production employed by women writers means much work remains to be done in understanding the material forms (paper, fabric, stone, metal, and hybrids of the above) used to produce and circulate their works. By comparing women's textual practices to those of their male contemporaries his thesis demonstrates the underappreciated aesthetic complexity of women's writing, explores new forms of textual transmission, and aims to improve our understanding of how form affects meaning.
Publications, Research Outputs, and Ongoing Projects
Ben’s first article, a study of reading practices, essay writing, and post-print manuscript editing by women writers appeared in The Review of English Studies. With Prof. Helen Smith, he is also currently editing 'The Material Book' section of The Palgrave Encyclopaedia of Early Modern Women’s Writing, for which he is also writing several biographies and chapters on digital materiality and epitaphs. Alongside his work as a feminist literary historian, Ben is a contributing editor to The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift working on his later political writings. As part of this research, he is currently writing an article with Christine Gerrard provisionally entitled 'Pulteney, Patriots and Plunderers: Jonathan Swift’s The Answer of William Pulteney, Later Political Writings, and a “lost” Pamphlet of 1730', that examines his discovery of an important new source for one of Swift's later pamphlets. He is also a practicing poet, with work published in The North.
Ben has also worked as an Research Assistant on Prof. Ros Ballaster's “Opening the Edgeworth Papers” Project. As part of this project he co-curated the "Meet the Edgeworths" exhibition at the Bodleian Library. Ben regularly blogged for the project and is particularly interested in the materiality of Maria Edgeworth's manuscripts. Updates for this project can be found on Twitter @EdgeworthPapers.
Ben has taught widely on literature written between 1550 and 1830, having taught Papers 1 (Shakespeare), 3 (1550-1660),4 (1660-1760), and 5 (1760-1830), Prelims 1 (Introduction to Language and Literature) at a number of colleges across Oxford. He has also taught at a faculty level as a graduate teaching assistant on 'Paper 6: Language, Persuasion, People, Things'. He has supervised a number of undergraduate dissertations, including topics on early modern book history, queerness in eighteenth century literature, Restoration utopias, early modern disabilities, HIV/AIDS literature, and contemporary women's writing, and welcomes enquires from potential supervisees.
Ben is passionate about improving access to higher education. He has a personal and professional passion for ensuring that marginalised communities have fair and inclusive access to studying and working at Oxford. Prior to studying at Oxford for his degrees, Ben attended a state school in Leeds. He is a proud working class, northern, queer, disabled, first generation academic. He has worked extensively on college access programs. For two years he taught on LMH's ground-breaking foundation year. In 2023, he is a tutor in English at the Department for Continuing Education on Oxford's flagship Astrophoria Foundation Year and Undergraduate Certificate in English.