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PhD Position (4 years, 1.0 fte), Leiden University

Working title: The Rhetoric and Poetics of Inventors and Inventions

(Anchoring Work Package 1, Discourse and Rhetoric); your own project to be designed in consultation with prospective supervisor.

Supervisory team:

Prof. Dr Ineke Sluiter (Leiden University); Prof. Dr André Lardinois (Radboud University); co-supervisor: Dr Casper de Jonge (Leiden University).

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.

In Classical Antiquity, one way in which this ‘anchoring’ is realized is through narratives of inventors and inventions, a rich genre concerned with providing a social biography for the accoutrements of human life. Writing, seafaring, building houses, making sacrifice to the gods: there is a great concern with establishing the pedigree of these phenomena, which are often associated with specific ‘culture heroes’, gods, and other inventors. Sometimes we find ideas about collective invention, for instance of language and speech. There are also a few instances of women inventors. Stories of the prôtoi heuretai help to structure and anchor the past of a group.

Today we can still identify modern ‘myths of invention’, featuring for instance (stereotypical) inventors, lone wolves and geniuses, and epics of endurance, sudden insights and serendipity. Modern narratives of invention thus also have a recognizable discourse of their own.

We invite structured PhD proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) with ideas on the discourse, themes, scenarios, and cognitive and social functioning of these stories of inventors and inventions of all kinds. It is not necessary to address all of these: a specific focus or your own framing of the question are welcome. We also suggest that you contact Ineke Sluiter ( at an early stage of designing your own project in this area for feedback and help. We have purposely left a lot of time for the design of your own project.

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:

Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Center for the Arts in Society (LUCAS).

For more information see:

The Faculty of Humanities:

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, LUCAS:


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.

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:


€ 2.325,- to € 2.972,- gross per month (based on a full-time appointment 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 Leiden Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Leiden 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 Prof. Dr Ineke Sluiter, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Aniek van den Eersten,