Leiden University

PhD position within the project 'Libraries as Links in Learning: Making the Meaning of Manuscripts'

2024-06-21 (Europe/Amsterdam)
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Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) invites applications for a

PhD position within the project ‘Libraries as Links in Learning: Making the Meaning of Manuscripts’ (1.0 fte, 4 years)

The PhD candidate will be working within the multi-member research project ‘Libraries as Links in Learning: Making the Meaning of Manuscripts’, which explores how libraries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries treated, promoted, and circulated their medieval manuscript collections. The project, which will examine this theme through the lens of the holdings of Leiden University Library (UB), is headed by two PI’s (Dr Irene O’Daly and Dr Bram Caers) and will welcome a Postdoc in the team in the course of 2025.

The project
This project examines the fate of Western medieval manuscript collections within the context of library professionalisation in the nineteenth century. It investigates how libraries mediated and facilitated knowledge exchange around the manuscript, in a context in which the Middle Ages were both a subject of scholarship and an inspiration for nation building. It queries the role played by libraries in constructing the medieval manuscript as a subject of material as well as textual study – as a powerful signifier of institutional intellectual capital – but also as a fragile and non-fungible object, monetarily valuable and collectable. By positioning libraries as a nexus of scholarly exchange, we interrogate their role in abstract processes such the canonisation of textual carriers, while recognising the material realities inherent in preserving and making accessible the manuscripts themselves. The project investigates the abstract and actual position of medieval manuscript collections within one context –Leiden’s University Library – focusing on the use and curatorship of the Western medieval manuscript collections in the Library from c. 1819 to c. 1939.

To analyse the varied uses of and attitudes towards the medieval manuscript collections, we will construct and assess the networks of which they were part. Alongside examining the manuscripts themselves for traces of contemporary use, the project will gather data regarding personages (scholars, librarians), objects (published outputs derived from the study of manuscripts, facsimiles, photos) and sites (the physical building, the institutional context in which the Library operated), to reconstruct and analyse the environments in which manuscripts were consulted, circulated, and canonised.

PhD position: Library professionalization from a manuscript perspective

The PhD candidate will track changing professional and scholarly practices and attitudes towards the medieval manuscript within nineteenth- and early twentieth-century library contexts, using Leiden University Library as its principal case study. They will collect and enter relevant data into a shared project database while tracking down publications and editions that utilised the UB’s manuscript material. On the basis of extensive source research, they will attempt to reconstruct the environments within which the medieval manuscripts were consulted, the scholarly conversations they provoked, and the responsibilities and challenges the custodians faced. We anticipate that the outputs of the PhD student will lead to an enhanced understanding of the interplay between the contexts in which manuscripts were used, and the meaning attached to them in scholarly work and in the eyes of society.

We encourage candidates to develop their own focus within the project. However, we would be particularly interested in receiving applications from students willing to work on the Middle Dutch and medieval Latin collections – such as the rich holdings of the Vossius collection, or the manuscripts deposited by the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde - both of which were the subject of intense study and interest in the period in question. More information about Leiden’s medieval manuscripts can be found here.

Key responsibilities

  • You will complete a PhD thesis within four years;
  • You will contribute to the project’s bibliographical and relational database by collecting and entering relevant metadata from the UB archives and holdings, and other relevant sources;
  • You will conduct research on the professionalisation of Leiden’s University Library within its wider European scholarly context, and the position of the medieval manuscript in that process
  • You will publicise your research in peer-reviewed journals or volumes, and at conferences in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • You will participate in regular meetings of the project research group;
  • You will participate in the training programme of the LUCAS Institute, the Leiden Graduate School of Humanities, the Dutch National Research School for Medieval Studies, and other relevant masterclasses, summer schools, seminars, workshops, and events;
  • You will participate in the PhD community and the intellectual life of the Institute (Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, LUCAS), in which you will become a member of the Medieval and Early Modern cluster (MEM);
  • You will contribute to the organisation of outreach activities within the project, and in the popularisation of research results;
  • Subject to progress and demand, you will do some teaching in the second and third year of your PhD project, in line with your expertise and prior experience.

Your profile

  • You hold a ResMA/MRes or MA with a specialisation in History, Medieval Studies, Historical Literatures, Classical Studies, Digital Humanities (with relevant specialisation), Book Studies or Library Studies;
  • Your ResMA/MA should be awarded by time of appointment, with a grade of 8.0 or above on a ten-point scale (distinction or equivalent) for your thesis. If the MA thesis is not yet finished, we invite you to provide contact details for your supervisor in your application letter so we may consult with them on your progress;
  • You have well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate creative research questions, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • You have an interest in the history of the humanities, and a willingness to conduct archival and manuscript research;
  • You have experience with or are willing to learn about relational databases and Linked Data;
  • You have full professional working proficiency in English and/or Dutch (speaking, writing, reading). Competencies in other European languages and reading competencies in Latin would be appreciated;
  • You have proven time-management skills;
  • You are a team player and independent thinker;
  • You have the ability to finish the proposed PhD research in 4 years.
  • International candidates are encouraged to apply but must be willing to relocate to the Netherlands for the duration of the project.

The organisation
The Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University 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: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/.

Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of the seven Academic Institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. The institute hosts a range of academic disciplines, clustered around a key research theme: the relationships between the arts and society. Our members study cultural production over the course of two millennia, from classical antiquity to our contemporary world, and teach in programmes ranging from Classics and Book History to Modern Literature, International Studies and Art History. Strengthened by our diversity, LUCAS members are uniquely placed to study the broad concept of the arts, with its rapidly changing ideas, aesthetics, and theories of cultural production. Through research, teaching and outreach, the Institute aims to deepen our understanding, both inside and outside academia, of the cognitive, historical, cultural, creative, and social aspects of human life.
As an academic community, we strive to create an open and welcoming atmosphere, stimulating everyone to get involved and contribute, and connecting scholars from different fields and backgrounds.

Terms and conditions
PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week; alternatively, the position can be 0.8 FTE for 5 years), starting date 1 September or 1 October 2024. Initially the employee will receive a 14-month contract, with extension for the following 34 months on condition of a positive evaluation. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from € 2,770 to € 3,539 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

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. For more information, see https://www.workingat.leiden.edu/.

Diversity & inclusion
Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Enquiries can be made to the PIs of the project, Dr Irene O’Daly (i.odaly@hum.leidenuniv.nl) and Dr Bram Caers (b.j.m.caers@hum.leidenuniv.nl). Questions about the procedure can be directed to Jennifer Dijkman (im-lucas@hum.leidenuniv.nl). Information about LUCAS can be found at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/geesteswetenschappen/centre-for-the-arts-in-society and about Leiden University at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en.


Please submit your application via the online recruitment system, via the blue button at the top of this page, latest 21 June. Applications received via e-mail will not be taken into consideration. Your application should include:

  • Letter of application in which you formulate your interest in the PhD project and explain why you are an appropriate candidate for the position;
  • Your CV, listing education and relevant 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 list these on your CV rather than filling them out separately in the system;
  • A copy of your MA-thesis or a writing sample (if the MA-thesis is not yet finished);
  • Copies of relevant course assessments (list of grades; certificates demonstrating language proficiency);
  • A copy of your MA degree certificate or, if your MA-thesis is not yet submitted, contact details for your supervisor so we may consult them on your progress.

(Online) interviews will take place in the first week of July. A first selection will be made on the basis of the application material outlined above; further requirements for the selection process will be communicated to the shortlisted candidates.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

Dettagli del lavoro

PhD position within the project 'Libraries as Links in Learning: Making the Meaning of Manuscripts'
Datore di lavoro
Rapenburg 70 Leida, Paesi Bassi
Scadenza candidatura
2024-06-21 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam)
2024-06-21 23:59 (CET)
Tipo di lavoro
Salva lavoro

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Informazioni sul datore di lavoro

Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of Europe’s leading international research universities.

Visita la pagina del datore di lavoro

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