James Wood is a Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century English Literature at the University of East Anglia. He has degrees from Victoria University of Wellington and Stanford University, and worked as an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College, Dublin before joining UEA. He has published essays and articles on authors including William Shakespeare, John Dryden, Samuel Richardson, William Wordsworth, Daniel Defoe and William Molyneux, covering fields including sociability, embodiment, periodical culture and the representation of travel. His first book, Anecdotes of Enlightenment: Human Nature from Locke to Wordsworth, which we discuss below, was published in July 2019 by the University of Virginia Press.
1) How did you first become interested in anecdotes?
When I arrived at graduate school in the US, I didn’t know what I’d be doing as a dissertation project. But I’d been interested in the New Historicist anecdote from taking a seminar on literary theory back in New Zealand, where we read two chapters from Stephen Greenblatt’s and Catherine Gallagher’s Practicing New Historicism. I remember being impressed with the anecdote could do in an essay: how it could enable these counterintuitive leaps between an apparently irrelevant artefact from the past and a …read more