Professor Rosalind H. Williams, a specialist in the cultural study of technology, has been appointed to the Robert M. Metcalfe Professorship in Writing.
The appointment was announced by Professor Philip S. Khoury, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science. Professor Khoury described Williams as "one of the School's outstanding scholars, teachers, and curriculum innovators."
Professor Williams is currently working on a cultural history of large technological systems. In particular, her book will focus on the transformation of spatial consciousness in late 19th-century Europe: its ideological and technological origins, its literary expressions, and its political implications. She is also the author of two earlier studies of the interaction between technology and culture. Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society, and the Imagination explores the role of the subterranean in the work of 19th-century novelists and engineers. Dream Worlds: Mass Consumption in Late Nineteenth-Century France offers an innovative account of the emergence of the department store.
For the past two years, Williams has served as associate chair of the faculty and chair of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program. In the latter capacity, she has organized an interschool working group that has discussed curricular interactions between the School of Engineering and the School of Humanities and Social Science. She is currently heading an initiative in Clear Thinking and Expression, intended to develop an array of classes throughout the undergraduate curriculum with a focus on the development of rhetorical and critical skills.
"Both her scholarship and her service demonstrate Professor Williams' commitment to elucidating the connections between the humanities and engineering. This makes her a particularly appropriate occupant of the Metcalfe Professorship," Dean Khoury said.
The chair was established by Robert B. Metcalfe '68, in order to foster programs and relationships that interweave the humanities, arts, and social sciences with engineering, and that now concentrates on the art of writing. Mr. Metcalfe is publisher and CEO of Infoworld Publishing Company.
Professor Williams received a BA from Wellesley College in 1964, an MA from the University of California at Berkeley, and a PhD in 1978 from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She held the Class of 1922 Career Development Professorship from April 1990-June 1992.
Professor Williams joined the faculty of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies in 1985 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1990.
A version of this article appeared in the May 19, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 33).