Two Ph.D scholarships available from September 2015 for Leverhulme Trust project on literature and cosmopolitan memory

We are delighted to announce two full Ph.D scholarships linked to a major three-year research project led by Professor Stuart Taberner (German) and funded by the Leverhulme Trust entitled ‘Traumatic Pasts, Cosmopolitanism, and Nation-Building in Contemporary World Literature’. The project is also part of the Leeds-based Transnational Holocaust Memories network which connects as number of projects relating to Holocaust memory (including a forthcoming AHRC exhibition on Germany’s Confrontation with the Holocaust in a Global Context). The project analyses literary fiction in post-unification Germany and post-apartheid South Africa as a critique of the way these countries relate their traumatic pasts to the globalisation of Holocaust memory (‘cosmopolitan memory’) in order to promote nation-building. The principal investigator, Stuart Taberner, will be working on the first comprehensive analysis of German-language and South African writing in relation to traumatic pasts, cosmopolitan memory and nation-building. At the same time, a key objective of the project is to build a team of researchers working comparatively on other regions confronting difficult pasts to test the hypothesis that this genre of literary fiction is the paradigmatic world literature of the present moment.

Both PhD projects will compare and contrast literary texts from Germany (or another German-speaking country) and one other country confronting a traumatic past (e.g. post-dictatorship Central and South America, post-independence North Africa, the Middle East, Japan, post-communist Eastern Europe, post-WWII western Europe, South Africa, post-imperial Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, etc.) in relation to the project theme of ‘cosmopolitan memory’ and nation-building.

Applicants will be invited to design their own PhD project and research proposal, which must be demonstrably linked to the project, as described above. Applicants wishing to compare two literatures not including German may also be considered, although a strong case would need to made for ‘fit’ with the overall research project. Each PhD student will be supervised by Professor Taberner and co-supervised by a colleague from the relevant department of the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies or the School of English (including the Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies). Each project will focus on a limited number of texts from each country, or possibly the work of a single contemporary author from each country, and interrogate the relationship, or tension, between cosmopolitan memory and nation-building. Additionally, the projects will contribute to the larger project’s ambition of initiating a broad comparative study of literatures from across the world in relation to traumatic pasts, cosmopolitan memory, and nation-building.

Applicants for these PhD scholarships will require excellent close reading skills, at least a good reading knowledge of the languages involved (i.e. German plus another foreign language or English), and a proven conceptual ability. Strong applicants will also be able be to articulate the opportunities that arise from being part of a team of researchers and be able to frame work as a contribution to this collaboration.

In addition, to full fees and the maintenance grant, the successful applicants will each have access to a research allowance minimum of at least £1,000 in each of the three years of the scholarship.