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DEADLINE EXTENDED: Applications invited for a full-time PhD position in literary studies

  • August 24, 2022


Vacancy for Academic Staff

Department: Linguistics and Literary Studies

Research Centre: Centre for Literary and Intermedial Crossings

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Faculty of Languages and Humanities, Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies, is looking for a four-year full-time PhD researcher in the field of literary studies as part of the FWO-funded research project “Rebuilding post-revolutionary identities in England, France and Italy: the reception, discussion and stigmatization of unruliness in novels through the periodical press (1816-31)”.

1. Project

This project will explore how the English, French and Italian periodical press of the Restoration (1816-31) interpreted the many facets of Unruliness in the reception of national and foreign novels. The focus will be on the novels’ reviews, which engaged extensively with the topic of Unruliness, broadly conceived as referring to nonconforming or dissident elements, such as prohibited desires, forms of ‘incorrect’ thinking, unruly behaviours, subversion of moral normativity. The research addresses still uncharted aspects of the intercultural relations occurring between the countries in a comparative way, and will show how the press helped forge postrevolutionary cultural identities across the continent. The project has three main aims:

a) catalogue and analyse data concerning the perception of unruliness in the novels’ reviews through a comprehensive survey of a wide body of printed sources, while exploring the transcultural dimension of the corpus;

b) challenge the study of the post-revolutionary period through a complex, albeit identifiable, conceptual category, with the aim of collectively analysing discursive practices belonging to different traditions;

c) create a methodological paradigm to study transcultural phenomena of this kind in other geographical and temporal contexts. Methodologically, I apply Digital Humanities (henceforth DH), Sociology of Literature and Comparative Literature approaches along with tools of Reader Response and Reception Studies.



2. Position description

We offer a four-year full-time PhD position (subject to annual positive evaluation). The successful candidate will carry out the project as a doctoral researcher in close collaboration with the supervisor at the Centre for Literary and Intermedial Crossing (CLIC) at VUB ( The candidate will write a doctoral dissertation on the subject of the European reception of foreign novels in the Restoration, with particular reference to the topic of Unruliness, carry out archival work on selected newspapers (in the UK, France, Italy and Canada), (co-)publish the results of the research in academic articles and books, present at national and international conferences and co-host scientific meetings. The candidate will complete the doctoral training programme of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at VUB ( and is expected to defend their doctoral dissertation in 2026. Please be aware that the position requires you to be present in the department on a regular basis (3 days per week). 

3. Profile

  • You hold a master’s degree in (literature in) English, (literature in) Italian, (literature in) French, comparative literature (or a comparable degree), Digital Humanities, or you will have obtained this by the start date of this position.
  • You demonstrate excellent study results. Previous academic experience (publications, conference presentations, etc.) will be considered an asset.
  • You have a demonstrable interest in 19th-century journalism, literature, reception studies, transcultural studies, translation studies, DH. Previous experience with archival research will be considered an asset.
  • You have demonstrable basic skills in the field of Digital Humanities and/or you attended classes, seminars, summer schools or other trainings in the field.
  • You are an enthusiastic researcher, capable of conducting research both independently and in a team.
  • You are willing to conduct research stays abroad in function of archival research and knowledge exchange.
  • You act in accordance with the rules regarding scientific integrity, as described in the VUB charter for researchers:`
  • You have excellent command (oral and written) of at least two languages between French, Italian, and English at an academic level. 

4. Offer

  • We offer a four-year full-time doctoral position (requiring enrolment as a doctoral student at VUB), subject to an annual positive evaluation.
  • The planned starting date is 1 January 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter.
  • You will receive a salary in one of the grades defined by the Belgian government. Depending on previous professional experience, the monthly tax-free salary varies from approx. € 2541 to max. € 2704 (EU staff) / approx. € 2318 to max. € 2466 (non-EU staff). In addition, you are provided with a shared office space and work laptop, library access, social and health benefits, and free access to Belgian public transport for your commute to campus.
  • As an employee of VUB, you will work in a dynamic, diverse, and multilingual environment. For this function, VUB’s Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Etterbeek) will serve as your home base. Our campus is a green oasis in the capital city of Flanders, Belgium, and Europe, and boasts an excellent restaurant and extensive sport facilities. It is within easy reach (twenty minutes by public transport) of the city centre of Brussels and has a direct train connection to Brussels National Airport. Childcare facilities are to be found within walking distance.
  • For more information on what it is like to work at VUB, go to

5. Application procedure

Applications should include (in one PDF file):

(1) a cover/motivation letter;

(2) your academic CV with details about your Bachelor and Master qualifications (including grades) and your previous academic experience (if applicable);

(3) a short text on how you envisage your contribution to the project, especially the doctoral dissertation that you would be working on (max. 1000 words). Please mention your approach, research question and potential cases;

(4) the names of two referees.

Also include (in a separate PDF file) a writing sample (e.g. your MA thesis, a research paper or academic article). Clearly mention your name on your writing sample. 

Please send your application by e-mail to the supervisor, Prof. dr. Andrea Penso ( The deadline is 30 October 2022 (midnight, CET). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the week of 1 November 2022 on the Humanities Campus of Vrije Universiteit Brussel or online.

If you have any questions, please contact