Dr Sarah Haggarty, Queens'




Biographical Information

Sarah is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of English. She is also Director of Studies in English, Lecturer, and Fellow at Queens’ College, Cambridge. 

Sarah works on long-eighteenth-century British writing, visual art, and culture, and has a special interest in the intersections of literary and cultural studies, philosophy, theology, and anthropology. She has written about theories of gift-giving and exchange; phenomenologies of timing and tempo; practical geometry, line-drawing and know-how; and folds as idea and practice in letter-writing. Sarah is also an expert in the study of William Blake, having most recently contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue for William Blake’s Universe, held in Spring 2024 at the Fitzwilliam Museum and Summer 2024 at the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Sarah went to her local comprehensive school before reading English at Cambridge. She was appointed to a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford, and lectureships at Southampton and Newcastle, before taking up her current post. 

Sarah has variously authored, co-authored, edited, and co-edited four books about William Blake, including her first monograph, Blake’s Gifts: Poetry and the Politics of Exchange (CUP, 2010) and William Blake in Context (CUP, 2019). In 2017-18, she held a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, and in 2016-17, she was an Early Career Fellow and the Crausaz-Wordsworth Fellow in Philosophy at CRASSH, the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities. She is currently on sabbatical, finishing a book about present time and kairos in Romantic-period British writing and visual culture. This includes chapters on Young’s Night Thoughts and its illustrators; spiritual autobiographies by Equiano, Whitefield, and John Newton; revolutionary writing by Helen Maria Williams; poems by Smith and Barbauld; love letters by Richardson, Chesterfield, Piozzi, Judith Madan, Wollstonecraft, Keats, and Austen; and periodical writing by Hazlitt and Hunt. 

Sarah teaches a Faculty MPhil Specialist Seminar related to her current research, and offers undergraduate lecture courses on ‘things’ and material culture; travel, trade and empire; love-letters; and theories and practices of line-drawing, among other topics, for the Visual Culture (II.18), Love, Gender and Sexuality (II.9), Long-Eighteenth Century (IB.6) and Practical Criticism (IA.1) papers. At Queens’, she teaches Practical Criticism and Critical Practice from Plato to the present, and long-eighteenth century writing (IB.6, II.9). She also acts as Director of Studies (academic tutor) for Queens’ English Finalists, and participates in undergraduate admissions. At Cambridge and previously, Sarah has won or been nominated for student-led teaching awards for outstanding lecturing, outstanding feedback, and contributions to pastoral care.

Research Interests

—William Blake, his works, and their reception, 1780s - present

—kairos, present time, time and genre (autobiography; epistolary fiction; narrative; long poem; lyric; historiography; history painting), phenomenologies of time (especially 1740s - 1840s)


—gift-giving and exchange in theory and practice, and associated discursive contexts such as patronage, charity, inspiration, sacrifice, salvation, grace, conversation, and correspondence

—material cultures (especially the ‘social life’ of ‘things’) in the long eighteenth century

—practical geometry and know-how

Areas of Graduate Supervision

Sarah would be glad to work with research students (MPhil and PhD) on any topic related to her research interests, or broader academic interests, as outlined above.  

Selected Publications

‘Blake’s Newton, line-drawing, and geometry’, Studies in Romanticism 60. 2 (2021), 123-151

William Blake in Context, ed. Sarah Haggarty (2019), including the chapter, ‘Manuscripts and notebooks’, pp. 43-55

William Blake: Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794), co-written by Sarah Haggarty and Jon Mee (2013)

‘“The ceremonial of letter for letter”: William Cowper and the Tempo of Epistolary Exchange’, Eighteenth-Century Life 35. 1 (2011), 149-167 

Blake’s Gifts: Poetry and the Politics of Exchange (2010; 2014)

Blake and Conflict, ed. Sarah Haggarty and Jon Mee (2009), including the chapter, ‘From Donation to Demand? Almsgiving and the “Annotations to Thornton”’, pp. 105-125