Dr Samuel Diener

Specialising in
Early modern and 18th-century literature and culture; history of empire and colonialism

Samuel specialises in early modern and eighteenth-century literature, culture, and history of the book. He focuses on the Anglophone world, but also does comparative work in Portuguese and Spanish. His research examines practices of reading, writing, and commodity consumption through which people imagined their identity from the early colonial period through Romanticism. 

Academic interests

Samuel’s academic interests include: 

  • Maritime humanities
  • New materialist theory
  • History of the book
  • Poetry and poetics
  • History of the novel
  • Studies of race and ethnicity
  • Gender and sexual identity.

Degrees obtained

  • AA, Shasta College.
  • BA, University of California, Berkeley.
  • AM and PhD, Harvard University.

Awards and prizes

  • American Council of Learned Societies / Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.
  • Harvard University Bowdoin Prize.


Samuel’s current book project, The Maritime Travel Book and the Collective Imagination, considers maritime exploration narratives from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, focusing on the ways that readers articulated collective identity both on and with the physical books they used. His July 2019 article in Women Writers in Context approaches this topic through the work of Eliza Haywood, and offers a set of digital tools to trace Anglophone women writers' engagement with global geographies. 

Samuel has also been busy with a long-term project on affect and emotional practices in early merchant-capitalist societies, read through material culture. His January 2019 article in Eighteenth Century Fiction is part of this work. He has written more broadly about new materialist scholarship for The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory and in reviews for other journals.

Samuel received his PhD in English and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University in 2022. Before coming to Jesus College, he taught in the Harvard Writing Program and as an adjunct professor of English at Emmanuel College, Boston.

Other interests

Samuel is working on a book of poetry inspired by the years he spent in the fishing and foodservice industries before attending university. He still loves to cook and to travel, if not always by sea.

Publications, links and resources

Find more information about Samuel Diener's publications and research on Orcid.

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