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School of English and Drama

Will Burgess


Conceptualising the public museum in enlightenment Britain



After a BA in English Literature at Oxford I took an MA in Eighteenth Century Studies at King's College London, jointly taught at the British Museum, before I started my PhD at QM in 2017.

My project, supervised by Claire Preston and Richard Coulton, explores the conceptualisation of the public museum in seventeenth and eighteenth century Britain. I am particularly interested in concepts of legacy, memorial, and museums as monuments, the interdependence of texts and objects, and knowledge and (im)permanence. My work intersects with enlightenment studies, book and library history, and waste theory.

I have also worked as a volunteer at a number of London museums and with exhibition development at the Vale & Downland Museum in Wantage.

Follow @Bill_Wurgess on Twitter


Recent conference papers

'The Character of a Virtuoso: Butterfly Collecting in the Eighteenth-Century Satiric Imagination' - ISECS, University of Edinburgh, July 2019

‘“A work of time”: The material decay and notional permanence of The Cotton Library’ - Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies Postgraduate Forum, University of York, Feb 2019

‘The Fossils of John Woodward: Defying death in the institutional museum’ - Eighteenth Century Research Seminar, University of Edinburgh, Feb 2019

‘“A work of time”: Decay and reorganisation in The Cotton Library 1696-1756’ - Books, Readers, and Reading: Celebrating 250 years of The Leeds Library, The Leeds Library, Sept 2018


I have taught on ESH110 - Literatures in Time



Claire Preston, Richard Coulton
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