PhD Position

(PhD) The Making of Classical Athens. Managing the New in Greek Drama / Ancient Rhetoric

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Radboud University
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

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

PhD Position (4 years, 1.0 fte), Leiden University

Main Supervisors: Prof. dr Ineke Sluiter (Leiden), Dr Saskia Peels (Groningen), Dr Luuk Huitink (Amsterdam)

Salary Range: between € 2.541 and € 3.247 gross per month

Project Description

New ideas and inventions that affect social life cannot thrive unless they are somehow embedded in the society for which they are intended. 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 current research agenda of the Dutch classicists.

‘Classical Greece’ was itself something new: primarily a construct of the Second Sophistic, its accompanying sense of uniqueness and difference (newness) can easily be traced even earlier, in the literature of post-Persian-war Athens and in the speeches of the fourth-century orators. As a historical period it was distinguished through a process of ‘lumping and splitting’, which exaggerates both the internal coherence of the period, and the difference with what went before and came after. We are interested in the cognitive aspects of the construction of ‘Classical Greece’. For example: How and why did ‘Classical Greece’ become a reference point, and in what way did this notion help people deal with newness and crises (social change and political upheaval)? How were the social and political values associated with ‘Classical Greece’ negotiated, already in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, and how did those values change?

We invite proposals for a PhD project, especially focusing on either of two areas: the shaping of Classical Greece in rhetorical prose of the fourth century; or the self-perception of uniqueness and difference in dramatic texts from the ‘Classical Period’.

Call for PhD Project

PhD 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 linguistic/rhetorical perspective, as they prefer, which may be combined with a historical perspective. In their proposal, candidates should outline their suggested approach, main research question(s), and expected original contribution to the field. More information about this program can be found on the website ( 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

PhD project, 4 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 an 18 month contract, with extension for the following 30 months on condition of a positive evaluation. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from € 2.541 to € 3.247 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

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 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 PhD candidate will include

  • Completion of a PhD thesis within the contract period;
  • 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 local Leiden Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS), as well as Anchoring Innovation Expert Meetings and Conferences;
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Leiden Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment.


  • A RMA, MA or MPhil degree in Classics, held by time of appointment, with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment (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);
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Excellent competence in ancient Greek and Latin, and English, as well as reading competence in French, German and Italian;
  • Independent thinker, team player;
  • Grit.


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 ( We strongly recommend candidates to contact the supervisor prior to submitting their proposal. We have deliberately scheduled a long period between this announcement and the deadline for submission so that candidates have ample time to prepare their projects. 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):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records (i.e. a certified copy of your MA and BA courses and results);
  • 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 or statement by master thesis 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-program via before April 24, 2023. Interviews will take place in the week of 22-26 May 2023 (online).