PhD position 'The Transfer of Power and/or Learning (translatio imperii and/or translatio studii) as an Anchoring Device in Early Modern (Neo-Latin) Literature'

Institution Name 
Leiden University
Position Rank 
If Other, Please Specify 
PhD position
Area of Specialty 
(Neo-)Latin Literature
Additional Desirable Specialties 
This position is 
Application Deadline 
November 1, 2019
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PhD project (4 years, 1.0 fte), Leiden University

Title: The Transfer of Power and/or Learning (translatio imperii and/or translatio studii) as an Anchoring Device in Early Modern (Neo-Latin) Literature

(Anchoring Work Package 6, Reception of Antiquity)


Prof. Dr A.B. Wessels (Leiden University), Dr S.T.M. de Beer (Leiden University).

Job description:

This project studies the reception of a ‘Denkform’ from classical antiquity: the notion that there is a natural ‘transfer’ or succession from one culture to the other (the so-called translatio). In antiquity, authoritative schemes of translatio were, e.g., the translatio studii (transfer of intellectual culture or learning) from Greece to Rome, or that of the translatio imperii (transfer of empire) from Troy to Rome. In Early Modern (Neo-Latin) literature this same notion of ‘transfer’ was employed in order to legitimize innovative shifts of power or learning. This ‘Denkform’ anchors these innovations in two ways: first by establishing a connection between the new power or centre of learning and Antiquity via such ‘transfer’; second, by establishing a connection between the Early Modern and ancient notions of ‘transfer’.

The PhD project is part of the programme described above. Possible topics are the legitimization of new centres of power by means of creating a genealogical connection with Troy, or the legitimization of new centres of learning, new forms of literature, or even ‘new’ literary languages by creating a connection with the literature of Rome and Greece.

Candidates are invited to design their own research project, set out in a structured PhD proposal (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus). Their research should be primarily based on Neo-Latin sources, but projects in which a comparison with vernacular sources is included are also (and even especially) welcome. In any case, the project should contribute to the overall research programme and address the following research questions: in what ways is the translatio-scheme used as an (anchored) anchoring device? How does it help author(s) to legitimize or generate prestige for new centres of power or new forms of literature? And what does their use of this scheme as anchoring device teach us about the concept of anchoring innovation itself?

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 Centre 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 April 2020. Initially a contract will be given for 12 months, with an extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation.


€ 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 Graduate School of Leiden University and the National Research School OIKOS (to be supplemented with modules from the research schools Huizinga or Mediëvistiek if desirable for the project);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Leiden Classics team and the intellectual life and PhD community 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, with a MA-thesis on a topic from Latin or Neo-Latin literature, or a Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Renaissance Studies (or comparable programme), with a MA-thesis that demonstrates solid expertise in Latin literature, held by time of appointment (if the degree is not yet obtained at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be obtained by time of appointment);
  • Excellent research skills;
  • A strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • Excellent command of English.


In order to be considered, 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;
  • If necessary (see requirements), statement by supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Aniek van den Eersten, the coordinator of the Anchoring-programme, via before 1 November 2019.

Interviews will take place in the week of 2-6 December 2019. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held via Skype.

More information about this position may be obtained from Dr Susanna de Beer, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Aniek van den Eersten,

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