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PhD candidate in the ERC Consolidator project FEATHERS: James VI/I

Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
21 juli 2020
07 september 2020

Nog 24 dagen om te solliciteren

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) invites applications for a

PhD candidate in the ERC Consolidator project FEATHERS: James VI/I 

Project description
The PhD candidate will be working on a subproject within the ERC Consolidator research project FEATHERS, funded for 2020-2025 by the European Research Council (ERC), and directed by Nadine Akkerman (Reader in early modern English Literature at Leiden University).

Manuscript production was a collaborative or ‘socialised’ enterprise that often involved secretaries and scribes who physically wrote what the author dictated. FEATHERS will overhaul historical approaches and offer new ways to assess the partnership between employer and scribe thus expanding the notion of early modern authorship to include hitherto marginalised voices: of women, the poor, the illiterate and the lower-born – those who ‘wrote’ without physically writing.

To distinguish authorial and scribal voices it will analyse 3 distinct manuscript types: Letters, Legal documents, and Literary works. It will address 3 questions: who were these scribes; what was their role or function, and where did their influence end and their employer’s begin?

The project will concentrate on England 1558-1642, a time when the centres of power were stable enough to allow for relatively constant employment, making individual scribes and their influence easier to identify. The model we create will be applicable to multiple political periods and countries.

Subproject: The Amanuensis & His Master: The Secretaries of James VI/I, 1603-1625 (PhD2). We are looking for a highly motivated, enterprising and enthusiastic PhD candidates to join the project team and write a thesis crucial for understanding the ways in which a secretary might interact and influence their patron. Whereas Elizabeth I’s secretariat has received only piecemeal attention, her successor’s secretariat has eluded scholarly attention altogether: this sub-project will comprise its first full-scale study. As such, this project forms the perfect counterpart to the FEATHERS subproject focusing on Elizabeth I’s secretariat: the moment when James VI added Elizabeth’s crown to his own in 1603 provides an ideal way of bringing the transition period of a secretariat into focus. This can help to identify individual scribes and their influence, as with the appointment of new secretaries alongside the potential continuation of old secretaries, and the accession of a new monarch, new relationships between monarch and his various penmen had to be forged, (re-)negotiated and navigated. The PhD candidate is expected to conduct an analysis of the corpus of James VI/I, through computational authorship attribution (stylometrics), and the study of individual secretaries who worked under him. The candidate will also trace changes in James’s autograph and scribal letters, to seek to identify James’s personal secretaries/scribes, and to investigate whether those overlap with government functionaries. As such the PhD candidate will also explore the professional relationship between secretary and patron, using individual secretaries as case studies in order to analyse the king’s authorship and, together with its sister project working on his gender counterpart Elizabeth I, create a working definition of the early modern secretary.

Key responsibilities

  • Conducting research on James VI/I’s secretariat. An important part of this research will take place in UK archives;
  • Completing a PhD thesis (in English) within four years;
  • Publishing at least one article in a peer-reviewed journal; and at least one in a popular magazine;
  • Participating in fortnightly meetings of the project research group;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Participating in the training programme of the LUCAS Institute, the Leiden Graduate School of Humanities and the National Research School in Cultural History (Huizinga Institute) and other relevant masterclasses, discussion groups, seminars, workshops, and events;
  • Participating in the PhD community and the intellectual life of the Institute;
  • Contributing to the organization of the events and activities within the project, including the project’s conference in year 3 of the project;
  • Subject to progress and demand, some teaching in the English department in the second and third years of the appointment.

Selection criteria

  • A ResMA/MRes or MA in English Literature, History or Early Modern Studies, awarded by time of appointment, with a thesis on a 16th-century or 17th-century topic, and a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale (or equivalent, such as distinction for UK scholars);
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate creative research questions, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Willingness to work up 3-4 months in UK archives in year 1 and year 2 of the project, up to a total of 8 months for the duration of the project;
  • Native or near-native speaker of English;
  • Experience with archival research and palaeography;
  • Knowledge of gender studies, digital humanities, early modern diplomacy, and / or court studies will be a plus;
  • Independent thinker and team player;
  • Ability to finish the proposed PhD research in 4 years. 

Our organisation
The Faculty of Humanities is a unique international centre for the advanced study of languages, cultures, arts, and societies worldwide, in their historical contexts from prehistory to the present. Our faculty is home to more than 6,000 students and 800 staff members. For more information see the website.

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of the seven Research Institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS is dedicated to ground-breaking research that explores the multifaceted relationships between the arts and society. For more information see he website.

Terms and conditions
The PhD project has a duration of 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week). The starting date is on
 1 February 2021. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from  2,395.- to 3,061.- gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

International candidates are especially encouraged to apply, but must be willing to relocate to the Netherlands for the duration of the project. Candidates are not expected to learn Dutch.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries about the project and the position can be addressed to the Principal Investigator, Nadine Akkerman, e-mail
 n.n.w.akkerman@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Enquiries about the procedure and LUCAS can be sent to im-lucas@hum.leidenuniv.nl. Information about LUCAS and links to staff expertise can be found at the website.

Please submit your application online (in English) via the blue button in our application system,
 no later than 7 September 2020. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents in a single PDF, quoting the vacancy number:

  • Letter of application with a motivation statement of 1000 words max., in which you formulate your special interest in the PhD project and some first ideas about how you would frame/approach it;
  • Your CV, listing education and possibly employment history, and any other academic achievements (conference presentations, publications, organization of events, etc.);
  • Names, positions and contact information for two referees (no reference letters). Please only list these in the PDF and not in the dedicated fields in the online application system;
  • A copy of your MA-thesis;
  • Copies of relevant course assessments;
  • Your MA degree certificate.

Interviews will take place in October.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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