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PD Position (3 years, 1,0 fte), Leiden University
Title: Anchoring new knowledge: commentaries on non-literary texts

(Anchoring Work Package 3, Philosophy and Religion )

prof. dr. Ineke Sluiter (Leiden); additional supervisory expertise dependent on the needs of the project

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. Successful 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.

A notable form of ‘anchoring’ is the commentary culture that pervades (later) Antiquity. Doctors and philosophers use the vehicle of the commentary to attach their work and (new) ideas to an authoritative figure in the past (Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle). Early Christian commentaries on the Bible defend the text and its use in contemporary society. The commentators use the instruments of poetic interpretation (and are thereby also anchoring their work, positively or –frequently -- negatively, in the grammatical or allegorical tradition). Reading back more recent ideas into the work of famous predecessors is also a risky activity: even though ‘newness’ and originality may not be valued directly, ancient authors must still carve out their own position and preserve their status as an independent thinker. How can this be achieved in a commentary? And what about those points where actual disagreement between the source text and the commentary is at issue? How do commentators, like Galen, stake out their own intellectual maneuvering space and manage to convey new ideas? How do they talk about the old and the new?

Candidates are invited to design their own proposal around the nexus of problems facing the ancient commentator in terms of the new and the old and their respective value. Obviously, the precise Research Question will need to be narrowed down. Case studies are acceptable. How does the use of the commentary genre promote or inhibit scientific, philosophical or religious thought in Antiquity? Candidates are free to adopt an approach or a combination of approaches: history of science, philosophy, or religion; genre theory and intertextuality etc. The research proposal should outline main research question, suggested approach, and expected original contribution to the fields of ancient commentary studies and the program of Anchoring Innovation.

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” (

Host institution
The Faculty of Humanities of 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 The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of the seven Research Institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS is dedicated to ground-breaking research that explores the multifaceted relationships between the arts and society. For more information see….

Terms and conditions
PD project, 36 mos (1.0 fte, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for March 1, 2021. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following two years on condition of a positive evaluation. Salary range from € 3.746 to € 5.127 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). It is also possible to extend the the appointment to 43 mos at 0,8 fte (30,5 hrs per week).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information:

Tasks of the PD will include:
o Designing, researching and writing four to five research papers or a monograph on the agreed research theme; case studies welcome;
o Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
o Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
o Participation in staff meetings at Leiden Classics and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
o Some teaching (one course) during three terms.

o A completed PhD in Classics, held by time of appointment;
o Excellent research and publication record in relation to stage of career;
o Strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
o Excellent command of English

The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Prof. dr. Ineke Sluiter, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort,

In order to be admissible, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):
o Cover letter;
o CV, including contact information of two referees;
o Transcript of records;
o Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (for these last two items together max. two pages A4);
o Copy of relevant diploma or statement by PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring-programme via before November 1, 2020. Interviews will take place in the week of Nov. 30 - Dec. 4. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held via an online platform.