PD Position

(PD) Receptions of Antiquity and Educational Cultures. Techniques of Anchoring in 20th Century Literature.

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Radboud University
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort
+31(0)24 3611276

Receptions of Antiquity and Educational Cultures. Techniques of Anchoring in 20th Century Literature.

Anchoring WP12: Cultural Change and the Classics in 20th- and 21st-century Europe

PD Position (3 years, 1.0 fte), Leiden University

Main Supervisor: Prof. dr Antje Wessels; additional supervision depending on topic chosen

Salary Range: between € 3.974 and € 5.439 gross per month

Project Description

In 20th century literature, receptions of antiquity display an intriguing paradox: authors who have never been educated in Classical languages or who have grown up in an educational culture where Classical languages were largely dismissed from the educational system (such as in the former German Democratic Republic), show a deep and intrinsic interest in engaging with antiquity, in anchoring their poetry in ancient culture and literature, and in creating a common ground which includes antiquity as a (subversive) language. Can we identify specific features of their engagement with antiquity when comparing them to authors who have grown up in an educational (and political) setting where antiquity played a major role? And are there also techniques adopted by educational cultures to anchor themselves in Classical Receptions (as for example in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts)?

This is the general area in which we invite proposals. Questions that could be considered are the following: Can we relate the techniques of engaging with antiquity to the individual or systematic educational context in which an author grew up? Do authors who learned ancient Greek and Latin at school or studied Classics at university (such as Derek Walcott in the Caribbean, Natalie Haynes in Great Britain, or Paul Claes in Belgium) show approaches and techniques which are different from those who did not have access via their educational institutions (such as e.g. Günter Kunert, Durs Grünbein in the German Democratic Republic)? Are there any relations between (national or societal) cultures of education and specific techniques of creatively engaging with antiquity? And what can we learn from their diverse techniques of anchoring with respect to (1) the need of (a) being in line with, (b) shaping or (c) creating common ground, and (2) their techniques of directing their audience, e.g. excluding and including certain groups of potential recipients?

Candidates are invited to design a structured proposal of their own (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) around these questions. They are free to adopt a more literary or more historical perspective. In their proposal, they should outline their suggested approach, main research questions, and expected original contribution to the field. We welcome case studies from either the English speaking, German speaking or Dutch speaking literary world of the 20th century (including the two decades before and after). Preferably you aim to explore a case study that allows for a comparison with an author/ a group of authors who have grown up in a different educational and political culture.

The project will also include some outreach activities, such as developing an online teaching package on ‘Techniques of Anchoring in 20th century poetry’ to be used and tested in academic teaching (Classics and/or Modern Languages). More information about the Anchoring Innovation research program can be found on the website (www.anchoringinnovation.nl). Another good starting point to get acquainted with the research program is an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Host Institution

The Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University is an international center 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 over 6,000 students and 800 staff members.

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.

Terms and Conditions

Postdoc project, 3 years (1.0 fte, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for September 1, 2023. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 2 years on condition of a positive evaluation. Salary range (depending on education and experience) of a minimum of € 3.974,- and a maximum of € 5.439,- (salary scale 11) gross per month for full-time employment, (pay scale for postdoctoral researchers, in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities). This includes medical and pension benefits. If desired, the position may be held part-time and thereby extended in length.

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, please visit http://www.workingat.leiden.edu/. Please note that if the successful candidate is not already registered as living in the Netherlands, it is required that the candidate will officially relocate to the Netherlands on the starting date of the contract at the latest.

Tasks of the PD candidate will include

  • Completion of a monograph or, alternatively, at least three substantial articles within the contract period;
  • Contributing to the online platform receptions-of-antiquity.com and developing a teaching package (outreach activities);
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Leiden Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute.


  • A PhD in a relevant field (e.g. Classics, Modern Literature, Comparative Literature), held by time of appointment;
  • Demonstrable experience in Reception Studies;
  • Demonstrably excellent educational skills and teaching experience (see tasks: outreach activities);
  • Excellent research skills;
  • A strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • Excellent command of English;
  • Willingness to be involved in teaching and outreach-to-the-public activities.


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 Antje Wessels (a.b.wessels@hum.leidenuniv.nl). If you would like to apply for this position, we advise you to contact her and request a small dossier of the material you would be working with. Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort (anchoring@let.ru.nl).


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 a list of publications and contact details of two academic referees;
  • Transcript of records (i.e. a certified copy of your BA and MA courses and results);
  • Copy of PhD diploma or a statement by the PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of the appointment.
  • 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);

Please submit your complete application to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring-program via anchoring@let.ru.nl before April 24, 2023. Interviews will take place in the week of 22-26 May 2023 (online).