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PhD Position (4 years, 1.0 fte), University of Groningen

Working title: New Ages: Anchoring Innovation in Roman Imperial Panegyric

(Anchoring Work Package 2, Literature and Art); project to be designed in consultation with prospective supervisor.

Supervisory team:

Prof. Dr Ruurd Nauta (University of Groningen), Dr Jan Willem Drijvers (University of Groningen), Dr Bettina Reitz-Joosse (University of Groningen).

Job description:

New ideas and inventions that affect social life cannot thrive unless they are somehow embedded in the society for which they are intended. Innovation will always be connected somehow—both in the ways it is communicated and perceived, and in terms of content—to what people know, believe, want, value, and can understand. This is true even of radical, path-breaking, ‘revolutionary’ ideas and insights. This phenomenon of ‘anchoring’ is central to the new research agenda of the Dutch classicists. One area in which ‘anchoring’ is studied in our program is its appearance in literature and the arts.

In this respect, a fascinating phenomenon is the trope of the ‘New Age’, in particular in panegyrical texts for Roman emperors. Although emperors needed to present themselves as firmly rooted in Roman traditions, they also needed to surpass their predecessors and claim that their own reign inaugurated a period of unprecedented flourishing. This emphasis on discontinuity was even greater after a period of crisis, and especially when a new dynasty had come to power. In such cases, the new age brought about a break with the immediate past, but it could still be anchored in a remoter past (real or imagined), to which it was presented as returning. The repetition of this process from emperor to emperor unfolded its own dynamics: thus, whereas the reign of Augustus was described as the return of the mythological Golden Age, a number of later emperors anchored their rule in those of predecessors. Such messages of return and renewal could be encoded in a variety of media, but a central role was played by literary texts written to praise the emperor, in poetry as well as prose. It is on such panegyrical texts that this project will focus.

We invite structured PhD proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) with ideas on how to approach the discourse of the ‘New Age’ trope, anchoring and related themes in panegyrical texts from the Roman Empire, including the late empire. A specific focus or your own framing of the question are welcome. We also suggest that you contact Jan Willem Drijvers ( at an early stage of designing your own project in this area for feedback and help.

More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the OIKOS website (, including an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Organisational unit

University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts.

For more information, see:, and


PhD project, 4 years (1.0 fte, 38 hrs/week), starting date to be agreed, with a preference for 1 September 2020. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation.

Groningen University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training, and career development.


€ 2.325,- to € 2.972,- gross per month (based on a full-time position of 38 hours).

Tasks of the PhD candidate will include:

  • Completion of a PhD thesis within four years;
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training programme of the local Groningen Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Groningen Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment.


  • A Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Classics, held by time of appointment (Sept. 1, 2020), with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment;
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Excellent competence in ancient Greek and Latin, and English, as well as reading competence in French, German, and Italian;
  • Independent thinker, team player;
  • Grit.


In order to be admissible, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma.

Please submit your complete application to Dr Aniek van den Eersten, the coordinator of the Anchoring-programme via before 21 April 2020.

Interviews will take place on Thursday 28 May. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held via Skype. Start date of the position ideally 1 September 2020.

Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Dr Jan Willem Drijvers, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Aniek van den Eersten,