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New PhD Studentship Opportunities at the University of Leicester

Posted on by Jason Hughes

The University of Leicester has recently been successful in its application to the AHRC as part of a consortium of three midlands universities (Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham) for a number of fully funded PhD studentships. The Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership has a focus on areas of research in arts, but, following a discussing between the Heads of Arts and Social Sciences at Leicester, the programme has also been extended to Social Sciences, including Sociology. Given the AHRC umbrella, topics will need to have some link to the areas of culture/history, etc. and will need to be pitched as such. Developmental studies of culture, or more general figurational analyses with a focus of, say, literature, art, film, music, etc. would thus make for an ideal fit with the thematic priorities of the programme.

The Partnership has secured a generous quota of fully funded PhD Studentships for each of the three Universities involved paid in part by the AHRC. There are three stages to the process of application:

1. An application to the Department via the normal mode of application:

2. An application by January 9th together with the prospective supervisor to the Midlands3Cities programme website:

3. Academic references (from applicant-appointed referees) by 14th January.

Deadlines are strict, which means that time is tight for prospective applications. For full details of the programme, see here. Informal discussions and expressions of interest should be sent to Jason Hughes.

In looking at the Partnership Programme outline, I was minded of a conference stream at Graz earlier this year in which a series of papers were presented on the topic of Elias and Popular Culture. These kinds of areas, once again, would be ideal for this particular PhD Studentship Programme. Below, as a reminder, is an outline of some of the topics considered in that stream:

Norbert Elias is well known for his study of long-term ‘civilising processes’. He had a robust intellectual rationale for using ‘civilisation’ rather than ‘culture’ as the primary focus for his work. As he discusses in the opening to his magnum opus, On the Process of Civilisation, the term ‘Kultur’, particularly in its German usage, has retained certain connotations from its specific path of development, stressing introspection, difference, uniqueness. ‘Civilisation’, on the other hand, has conceptual value because of its emphasis on development: for its application as a term which invites comparison, contrast, and which is always attuned to long-term processes of ‘becoming’. Arguably, despite its normative baggage as a watchword for Western superiority, the concept of civilisation remains analytically useful because it does not separate cultural processes from social processes, and encompasses much that is normally considered in relation to studies and analyses of ‘culture’. This presents a series of enduring problems: what is the evidential status of ‘cultural artefacts’ when viewed as historical data? Might popular culture constitute a vehicle for shifting standards of socially acceptable behaviour? Where do studies of popular culture stand in relation to analyses of civilising processes? How might a contemporary researcher locate research into film, television, and new media, in the context of longer-term processes of social development? How might one reconcile Elias’s work with ‘media studies’ and other analyses of popular culture?