Job openings

Job openings: Three research positions in ERC project on communication practices in Antiquity

Ghent University – Faculty of Arts & Philosophy (Belgium)

In September 2017, prof. dr. Klaas Bentein was awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council, entitled ‘Everyday Writing in Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt. A socio-semiotic study of communicative variation’ (EVWRIT, 2018 – 2023). He is now opening three research positions on the project, two at the level of PhD candidate (full-time, four years), and one at the level of Post-doctoral fellow (full-time, four years). At a later stage, two more positions will be opened.

The project

Docu­mentary texts from Ancient Egypt such as letters, petitions, and contracts have provided a key witness for our know­ledge of the administration, education, economy, etc. of Ancient Egypt. This project argues that, since the texts represent originals, their external  aspects should also be brought into the interpre­ta­tion: elements such as hand­writing, linguistic register or writing material transmit indirect social messages concerning hier­archy, status, and power relations, and can therefore be con­sidered ‘semiotic resour­ces’. They have, however, never been the object of syste­matic study.

The project’s driving hypothesis is that commu­nicative variation – variation that is functionally insignifi­cant but socially significant (e.g. there are ~ there’s ~ it’s a lot of people) – enables the expression of soci­al meaning. The main aim of this project is to analyze the nature of this communicative variation. The project has three more specific goals: (i) to create an open-access database of annotated documentary texts, (ii) to uncover the ‘semiotic potential’ of the different semiotic resources that play a role in documentary writing, and (iii) to analyze the interrelationship between the different semiotic resources involved. 

Two PhD fellowships (four years)

Research topics

Applicants are invited to apply for a full-time, four-year fellowship to study communicative variation in one of the following two areas:

1.       Lexicology: One important area of linguistic change in the Post-classical period concerns words and their meaning. Whereas documentary texts form one of the main sources for lexicological study, they have received rela­tively little attention so far. Rather than compiling a new lexicon of the papyri, the project will concentrate on a number of functional domains. As a PhD candidate, you will have two main tasks: (i) to analyze which ‘new’ words come into use in these functional areas, how they are formed, and which specific meanings they have, and (ii) to analyze which ‘old’ words are used with new meanings that are relevant to these domains. In addition to these two major goals, you will investigate the connection between lexemes and their social context.

2.       Orthography: The ortho­graphy of Post-classical and Byzantine documentary texts has been quite well studied in the past. However, it has most­ly been studied in the context of Ancient Greek phonology: little attention has gone to the social dimen­sion of ortho­graphic choice, a topic which has come under renewed attention in recent socio-lin­guistic work. This is indicated, for example, by the fact that very little scholarly attention has gone to licensed orthographic variation, that is, the re-introduction of archaic prestige variants (e.g. rr next to rs: tharrô vs. tharsô). As a Phd candidate, you will make an inventory of both licensed and unlicensed orthographic variation, and study how orthographic variants can be connected to the social context.

Duties

The successful applicants will be expected to hand in and defend a doctoral thesis after four years of research. They will also be expected to actively contribute to the scholarly activities of the research group (such as annotating the EVWRIT-database, organizing conferences, participating in joint publications, etc.). They should come and live in Belgium, and work closely together with the other team members, contributing to a pleasant and stimulating atmosphere.

Envisaged profile

Applicants are expected to hold a master’s degree in Classics or in a related discipline (e.g. Ancient History or Linguistics). In order to be eligible, applicants must have obtained their degree at the time of application or demonstrate convincingly that they will have that degree in hand by the summer of 2018. A strong command of Ancient Greek is essential, as well as the ability to apply a (historical) sociolinguistic methodology to a corpus of texts from Antiquity. An acquaintance with other Ancient languages, the diachrony of Ancient Greek, and/or papyrology will be considered an asset. Applicants should be fluent in English, and have good reading skills of the other languages relevant to the field (German, French, Italian).

Fellowship

The fellowship is for four years, on condition of positive evaluation by the advisory board after the second year. The net salary will be approx. €2000/month; in addition the fellowship provides for social benefits and health insurance. Successful applicants will also be given a substantial allowance for travel and other research purposes.

One post-doctoral fellowship (four years)

Research topic

Whereas linguistics has a firmly established descriptive tradition when it comes to describing variation, typography (referring to the visual organization of written language, however it is produced) does not. As a post-doctoral fellow, your task will be to develop such a framework, focusing on both micro- and macro-level aspects of typography. An important part of the analysis will deal with the relevance of typographical variation (at both the micro- and the macro-level) to express social meanings. You will largely focus on Ancient Greek, but also extend the analysis to one or more of the other languages attested in the corpus (Latin/Coptic/Arabic), paying attention to contacts between different writing systems.

Duties

The successful applicant will be expected to publish the results of his/her research in the form of a monograph and/or peer-reviewed articles. S/he will also play a leading role in managing the scholarly activities of the research group (creating and annotating the EVWRIT-database, organizing con­ferences, participating in joint publications, etc.), and assist prof. dr. Klaas Bentein in supervising the doctoral students. S/he should come and live in Belgium, and work closely together with the other team members, contributing to a pleasant and stimulating atmosphere.

Envisaged profile

Applicants are expected to hold a doctoral degree in Classics or in a related discipline (e.g. Ancient History or Linguistics). In order to be eligible, applicants must have obtained their degree at the time of application or demonstrate convincingly that they will have that degree in hand by the summer of 2018. A strong command of Ancient Greek and at least one of the other languages attested in the corpus (Latin/Coptic/Arabic) is essential, as well as good paleographical skills, and the ability to extend a socio-semiotic methodology to a corpus of texts from Antiquity. An acquaintance with other Ancient languages, papyrology, and/or (historical/socio)linguistics will be considered an asset. Applicants should be fluent in English, and have good reading skills of the other languages relevant to the field (German, French, Italian).

Fellowship

The fellowship is for four years, on condition of positive evaluation by the advisory board after the second year. The net salary will be approx. €2500/month (depending on seniority and family situation); in addition the fellowship provides for social benefits and health insurance. The successful applicant will also be given a substantial allowance for travel and other research purposes.

Ghent University

Ghent is an attractive medieval town, with a strong economic base and lively cultural scene. Just 30 minutes by train from Brussels, two hours from Paris and Amsterdam, and two and a half hours from London, it is ideally situated at the heart of European intellectual life.

Ghent University was founded in 1817 and is currently one of the major universities in the Low Countries (www.ugent.be/en). Its Greek section is internationally recognized for its broad literary, linguistic, and philological interests. It houses experts on the entire diachrony of the Greek language, including Homeric, Classical, Post-classical, Medieval and Modern Greek. Three distinguished colleagues in particular will be involved in this project (prof. dr. Mark Janse, prof. dr. Giovanbattista Galdi, and dr. Joanne Stolk), but there are several other members of the Greek section who have a lively interest in the project.

How to apply

Applications should include (i) a cover letter outlining background and motivation, (ii) a writing sample (max. 10.000 words), (iii) two letters of recommendation, and (iv) a detailed CV. Applications for the post-doctoral fellowship should also include a one-page research statement (not including references).

Applicants are invited to submit these documents (preferably as one pdf-file) to Klaas.Bentein@UGent.Be.

The deadline for submission is June 1, 2018. A selected number of applicants will be invited for an interview in Ghent or a skype interview on June 11, 2018.

The starting date is October 1, 2018, or soon after.

For inquiries, please contact prof. dr. Klaas Bentein at the above-mentioned e-mail address.