Dr Adam James Smith

Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature

School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy

E: a.smith3@yorksj.ac.uk

T: 876 258

Adam Smith

I  first joined the Literature team at York St John University in 2013.  I received my BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Sheffield, where  I also later completed an interdisciplinary MA in Eighteenth-Century studies in 2010.  I remained at Sheffield for my PhD, '"A certain design: The partisan strategy of Joseph Addison's "The Freeholder"', which  I completed in the summer of 2014.

From 2014-2016,  I was an Honorary research fellow for the University of Sheffield's Centre for Archival Practices and a Cultural Engagement Fellow on an AHRC-funded post-doctoral project titled 'Sheffield: Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810.' During the same period  I contributed to the first Massive Open Online Course to be launched by the School of English at the University of Sheffield, 'Literature of the English Country House', serving as Co-Lead Educator for the 2015 and 2016 iterations of the course.

I have built up a substantial range of teaching experience, having taught in Universities since 2011. I am also passionate about public engagement and ever keen to find new ways to disseminate information and engage in knowledge exchange. For instance, in 2016  I secured funding to work with playwright Javaad Alipoor and the Eclipse Theatre company to produce and perform a live show based on my archival research at Sheffield's Festival of the Mind.

At York St John University, I lecture across the Literature programme, specialising in eighteenth-century literature. I am Level 5 co-ordinator and co-director of the York Research Unit for the Study of Satire.

I am also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Further Information



I am a robust and dynamic teacher, offering a wide-range of teaching on the Literature programme. I typically teach on first-year modules, such as 1EN600: Introduction to Literary Studies 1 and 2 and 1EN601 Writing, Research and Literature. I also regularly teach on 1EN230 Forms of Narrative, 2EN601 Science Fiction for Survival, 2EN510 Literature at Work and 3EN290 Gender and Sexualities, and I contribute sessions to MA in Contemporary Literature.

Previous to my time at York St John University, I have also taught modules on Renaissance Literature, Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature, Romantic and Victorian Literature, Genre Studies, Critical and Literary Theory and the Works of John Donne.

I also supervise undergraduate dissertations on a range of subjects. In recent years I have supervised work on Restoration poetry, eighteenth-century literature, graphic novels, representations of mental health, young adult dystopian fantasy and the works of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Jacqueline Wilson.




I work on eighteenth-century political literature and print culture. My doctoral research examined a selection of early eighteenth-century Whig periodicals. The PhD looked particularly at the partisan writing of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. Subsequently, this has developed into an ongoing interest in satire and varying modes of subversive political expression during the Hanoverian period.

I have also developed an interest in the political print culture outside of eighteenth-century London. I have worked extensively of radical newspaper networks across Sheffield and York, with a specific interest in the life and writing of the editor, poet, hymn-writer and activist, James Montgomery. Together with Drs Kaley Kramer (Sheffield Hallam University) and Rachel Stenner (Sussex University) I co-lead the Print Culture, Agency and Regional Identity research network.

Generally, I am interested in the relationships between politics, news and literature and how partisan identity is cultivated and articulated.

I am currently supervising a PhD on representations of property in eighteenth-century Gothic literature and welcome PhD proposals in any area of long eighteenth-century literature and culture, but especially the following:

  • Early print culture (pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers)
  • Non-fiction prose (travel writing, life-writing, essays)
  • Political writing and satire
  • Whig literary culture
  • The writing of Joseph Addison and/or Richard Steele
  • The rise of the novel
  • Representations of politeness
  • Representations of the coffee house
  • Twenty-first-century engagements with eighteenth-century literary culture.

Professional Activities


I am an enthusiastic and collegiate participant in various research communities across my field. I am a member of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, where I serve as a Co-Editor for the Media pages of their online review hub: Criticks. I have contributed reviews and articles to the Society's Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies and I have been called upon to peer review for other publications within my research area. I also regularly contribute eighteenth-century biographical entries to the trans-historical Literary Encyclopaedia. I am a member of the Sheffield Centre for Archival Practices (where I was also an Honorary Research Fellow until Spring 2017) and the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Study of the Bible.





Poetry, Conspiracy and Radicalism in Sheffield, ed. by Hamish Mathison and Adam James Smith (Sheffield: Spirit Duplicator, 2016).

Journal Articles/Book Chapters

Smith, Adam James (Forthcoming 2020), ‘Printing a Culture for Sheffield: Joseph Gales and the Hartshead Press, 1787-1848’ in Print Culture, Agency and Regional Identity in the Handpress Era, ed. by Rachel Stenner, Kaley Kramer and Adam J Smith

Smith, Adam James (in press, 2019), ‘How Proudly Shines the Crazy Clock’: Temporal Displacement and the Miasma of York in James Montgomery’s Prison Amusements (1795-97), The City in Time: Essay Collection, ed. by Anne-Marie Evans and Kaley Kramer.

Smith, Adam James (in press, 2019), ‘Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate: Post-structuralism and the staggered retirement of Fox Mulder’ in At The Mercy of Monsters: Essays on the Rise of Supernatural Procedural Dramas, ed. by Ashley Szanter and Jessica K. Richards (Jefferson: McFarland).

Smith, Adam James, ‘Property, Politics and Patriotism: The Figure of the “Freeholder” in Eighteenth-Century Partisan Print’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 40.3, Sept 2017. pp. 345-362.

Smith, Adam James, ‘Research as Resistance’, in No Picnic: Explorations in Art and Research, ed. by Matthew Cheeseman (London: NATCECT, 2014).

Smith, Adam James, ‘The legacy of Joseph Addison’s Free-Holder: The textual transmission of citizenship’, Track Changes, 1.5 (2013).


‘Richard Steele’ in Literary Encyclopaedia: Exploring Literature, History and Culture (April 2017)

‘Joseph Addison’ in Literary Encyclopaedia: Exploring Literature, History and Culture (October 2016)




'The Corrosion of Satire: Boris Johnson [the Prime Minister] and the Dangerous Abuse of Satirical Traditions', Laughter: Contemporary Canons and Values in Contemporary Literary Studies, University of Central London. September 2019.

‘The Deformity of Little Wants”: Addison, Steele and Impoliteness after The Spectator’, Impolite Periodicals Panel, International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Edinburgh University. July 2019.

‘Brexit, Corbyn, Anything but History: The Way People Talk About Poldark’, Pop Enlightenments Panel, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, St Hugh’s College, Oxford University.January 2019.

’The Unwilling Gratitude of Base Humanity”: The Partisan Hailing of the Satirist in the Writing of Joseph Addison and Alexander Pope’, Character and Caricature, 1660-1850, Northumbria University. September 2018.

‘The Stories of James Montgomery: Accessing obscure eighteenth-century literature through creative practices’, at English: Shared Futures Conference, Newcastle. July 2017. 

'The price of tickets and of souls”: James Montgomery’s political poetry of 1816’ at Creativity and Turmoil: The Summer of 1816 Conference, University of Sheffield. June 2016.

'A Smooth Mephistopheles”: The many ‘lives’ of Joseph Addison’ at the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Oxford University. January 2016.

'The dead themselves were not spared”: A vision of Swift’s Examiner in Addison’s Free-holder’ at Text and Book in the Age of Swift, Oxford University. November 2013.

‘The Style of the News”: A vision of polemic print culture in the Hanoverian periodical writing of Joseph Addison’, at The Business of Newspapers: Commercial information versus civil instruction, Liverpool University. June 2013.

‘News as news: Addison’s periodical reports its own inception’, at The Eighteenth-Century World Research Centre Annual Conference, Liverpool University. March 2012.


Public Engagement



'Introducing The Day Shall Come', Co-presented with Dr Jo Waugh, City Screen Picturehouse Cinema. October 2019.

'Satire and the Future: Can the Satirists Still Save Us', Co-presented with Dr Jo Waugh, York Literature Festival, York Explore Library. March 2019.

'Nightmares and Dreamscapes: writing York in the Eighteenth Century', Big City Read Festival, York Explore Library. November 2018.

‘Poetry, protest and imprisonment in 18th-century York: James Montgomery in York Castle Prison’, Mint Yard Lecture, York Explore Library. April 2017.

‘Inglorious prey: The incarceration of James Montgomery’, at the York Literary Festival. March 2017.

‘James Montgomery: Poetry and protest’, co-presented with Dr Hamish Mathison, Off the Shelf Festival, Sheffield. November 2016.

‘The Trial of James Montgomery’, Mobile University, Sheffield. September 2015.

Paradise Lost in time: A text in transmission’, In The City Festival, Sheffield. June 2014.


‘Terra Two: Writing for off-world survival’, co-presented with Drs Leisl King and Rob Edgar, York Festival of Ideas. June 2017.

‘Marvel comics of the Civil Rights era’, Black History Month, York St John University. November 2016.

‘James Montgomery: A life of activism’, Festival of the Mind, Sheffield. September 2016. 

‘Print-houses of eighteenth-century York: A walking tour’, co-presented with Dr Kaley Kramer, York Festival of Ideas. June 2015.

Public Engagement: Resources

Smith & Waugh Talk About Satire. An ongoing podcast in which Dr Jo Waugh and I discuss satire with academics and practitioners involved with the study and production of satire.

Satire: Deaths, Births, Legacies. An ongoing interdisciplinary project exploring the form, function, history and future of satire, co-directed by Dr Jo Waugh.

The York Research Unit for the Study of Satire. A formal cluster of scholars intended to create opportunities for the academic community at York St John University to lead a national conversation about the form, function and future of satire.

‘Words with wagtails: York prison poetry.’ An expanding archive of poetry written in York Castle prison during the late eighteenth century, accompanied by responses from a wide range of twenty-first-century readers.

‘Sheffield:  Print, Protest and Poetry, 1790-1810.’ An online archive of radical poetry from Sheffield’s late eighteenth-century press, accompanied by blog posts, videos and a three-part podcast.

‘The view from the coffee house.’ Adam’s own blog, offering commentary on contemporary events from an eighteenth-century perspective.

‘Welcome to the coffee house: The literature of the eighteenth-century’, Online course, iTunesU.

‘The Coffee House.’ In 2014, Adam secured funding to work with film-maker and Gemma Thorpe to develop this short film, based on my doctoral research.

Public Engagement: Media (Publications)

Spitting Image: a warning from the 'golden age' of satire. Co-written with Dr Jo Waugh. Published in The Conversation on 7 October 2019.

Titania McGrath: Twitter parody of ‘wokeness’ owes a lot to satirists of the 18th century. Co-written with Dr Jo Waugh. Published in The Conversation on 15 March 2019.

Brexit Britian is easy fodder for satirists: but they should learn from 18th-century masters how to do it properly. Published in The Conversation on 8 October 2018.

Smith, Adam James, ‘Sheffield Editors who stood up for the city’, Sheffield Star, 9 April 2016.

Smith, Adam James, ‘Don’t scoff at the hipster coffee shops, they’ve been around for 300 years’, The Guardian, 30 June 2015.

Smith, Adam James, ‘The Dream of the Coffee House’, Now Then Magazine, August 2014.

Media (Radio)

Smith, Adam James, (Contributor), The Ant-Hill Podcast Episode 6: Into Darkness, October 2016. 

Smith, Adam James, (Guest), Rony Robinson, BBC Radio Sheffield, September 2016 and March 2017.



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