PhD candidate 'Imagining the Rural in Contemporary British Culture'

Faculty of Humanities – Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis

19 juni 2018
Master's degree
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month, based on 38 hours per week
26 augustus 2018
38 hours per week

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, one of six research schools of the Faculty of Humanities, has a vacant PhD position as part of the ERC Consolidator project Imagining the Rural in a Globalizing World/RURALIMAGINATIONS, led by Prof. Esther Peeren.

ASCA is home to more than 110 scholars and 120 PhD candidates, and is a world-leading international research school in Cultural Analysis. ASCA members share a commitment to working in an interdisciplinary framework and to maintaining a close connection with contemporary cultural and political debates.

Job description

With globalization primarily considered an urban phenomenon, its impact on rural areas tends to be neglected. Tackling this blind spot is urgent as rural-urban divides persist and rural communities, notably in the 2016 Brexit vote and US election, claim their concerns about globalization’s effects are being ignored. RURALIMAGINATIONS focuses on the crucial role played by cultural imaginations in determining what aspects of contemporary rural life do and do not become visible nationally and globally, which, in turn, affects how the rural can be mobilized politically. Using a distinctive humanities approach, it examines prominent cultural imaginations of the rural in film, television and literature in the UK, US, Netherlands, China and South Africa, asking:

  1. to what extent do these imaginations render globalization’s effects on the rural (in)visible?
  2. what role do traditional rural genres and the feelings or desires they attach to the rural play in this making (in)visible?
  3. how can new aesthetic repertoires highlighting the rural as a site of globalization and addressing rural-urban divides and inequalities be developed?

The five subprojects conduct, in their national contexts, a narrative, visual and discursive analysis of post-2000 rural imaginations, guided by an innovative theoretical framework combining three concepts: the chronotope reveals what the imagined rural time-space renders visible and how it relates to urban and global time-space; spectrality gives access to what rural imaginations render invisible and to their haunting by traditional genres; and affect exposes how these imaginations attach feelings and desires to the rural, impacting its evaluation and political mobilization. The project synthesis compares the five contexts and examines how rural imaginations interact globally. Expert workshops in the national contexts forge collaborations between humanities scholars, social scientists and cultural producers to develop new rural imaginations.

The PhD project focuses on the UK context, through the lens of the following research questions:

  1. What are the most prominent (widely viewed/read and/or discussed) cultural imaginations of the rural in post-2000 British film, television and literature? Method: quantitative & qualitative analysis: viewing/sales figures, volume/range/duration of media attention, critical reception (reviews/prizes), public reception (discussion boards/blogs/social media);
  2. How do these imaginations configure rural time-space? Method: comparative close reading (using narrative, visual and discursive analysis); theoretical framework: chronotope;
  3. What do these imaginations preserve from the past and what do they elide from the present? Method: comparative close reading; theoretical framework: spectrality;
  4. In these imaginations, what feelings, emotions and desires are stuck to the rural and with what historical sensorium or structure of feeling is it associated? Method: comparative close reading; theoretical framework: affect;
  5. Which politics are, explicitly or implicitly, supported by these imaginations? Method: comparative close reading; theoretical framework: affect + Rancière’s politics of aesthetics;
  6. What new aesthetic repertoires are required to reveal what existing rural imaginations render invisible and to link the rural to different feelings/emotions/desires and politics? Method: comparative close reading; theoretical framework: affect + Rancière’s politics of aesthetics.

The PhD position is aimed at candidates who will complete their MA/MSc no later than 31 August 2018.

Tasks include:

  • completion of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • completion and submission of two journal article manuscripts within the period of appointment;
  • completion of a chapter for an edited volume within the period of appointment;
  • regular participation in national and international workshops/conferences;


If you are our ideal candidate you have:

  • a relevant Master’s degree in the Humanities or Social Sciences, focusing on contemporary British culture, completed no later than 31 August 2018;

  • outstanding research qualities, manifested in strong transcripts and a high-quality Master’s thesis;

  • demonstrable experience with the narrative, visual and discursive analysis of film, television and/or literature;

  • demonstrable experience working with theoretical frameworks and a keen interest in the three concepts (chronotope, spectrality, affect) central to the project;

  • excellent written and spoken English;

  • a keen interest in interdisciplinary research methods and approaches;

  • the ability and willingness to work in a team;

  • the willingness to travel abroad for research stays, conferences and project expert workshops;

  • strong organizational skills.

Further information

For further information, please contact:


You will be appointed at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Humanities, Department of Language and Literature. The appointment will be for 48 months, full-time, under the terms of employment currently valid for the Faculty. You will be a member of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation. The intended starting date is 1 January 2019. The gross monthly salary will be €2,222 during the first year to reach €2,840 during the fourth, based on 38 hours per week. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Job application

The UvA is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees. We value a spirit of enquiry and endurance, provide the space to keep asking questions and cherish a diverse atmosphere of curiosity and creativity.

Please submit your application in a single PDF file (not zipped) to no later than 26 August 2018, with the subject line 'Application Peeren PhD UK'. 
Your application must consist of the following:

  • a detailed letter of motivation, stating why you want to carry out this particular research project – please state clearly which doctoral project you are applying for – and why you are the right candidate for this position (no more than 1,000 words);
  • a summary of your Master’s thesis (250-500 words);
  • a Curriculum Vitae outlining all relevant experience;
  • transcripts of your Master (or equivalent) program;
  • the names and contact details of two referees familiar with your academic record and research skills.

We may request shortlisted candidates to provide additional materials. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Gepubliceerd door  Universiteit van Amsterdam