HWW Board Spotlight: Sebastian Williams

Meet Sebastian Williams. He received his PhD in English from Purdue University in 2021. Williams is currently an assistant professor of English at Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, where he participates in programs such as Upward Bound to mentor first-generation students in Appalachia.

Previously, Sebastian worked in digital marketing and academic publishing; his experience informs his emphasis on public-facing education and research within the humanities, particularly service learning, community engagement, and the digital humanities. He was a member of the 2019 Humanities Without Walls cohort and is now writing a book on community-based writing and literature pedagogy.

Williams headshot
Sebastian Williams

What is one thing you learned at the HWW workshop that impacted your life?

HWW opened my eyes to the many career possibilities for humanities scholars and it gave me a newfound confidence in my abilities as a writer, editor, and researcher. That confidence was key: it allowed me to “market” my skills in areas like academic publishing and content writing. And, ironically, working in academic-adjacent and non-academic jobs made me a better fit in my current role as an English professor. I’m now trying to teach my advisees how they can navigate an increasingly fraught job market and explore nontraditional outcomes in the humanities.

What advice do you have for workshop participants?

I advise current participants to be open to every experience and to learn from other participants (as well as the speakers). Often, the unscheduled activities and the time between panels led to fruitful conversations and a sense of comradery. HWW pulls together a diverse group of scholars, so if you can be empathetic and listen to people from backgrounds other than your own, you will benefit immensely.

What was the most memorable part of the HWW workshop?

The most memorable part of the HWW workshop was meeting with professionals and interviewing them as part of a “job ethnography.” I met with an administrator at the Newberry Library and the editor-in-chief of JSTOR Daily. Both individuals had impressive resumes, but they also found ways of adapting quickly; for example, one learned programming while another learned grant writing to make themselves more competitive.

Describe Humanities Without Walls in 1-2 sentences.

HWW is a crash course in redefining the humanities. Participants not only learn practical skills such as marketing their abilities, but the workshop also impels you to reimagine the humanities as a positive disruptive force in an increasingly alienating world.