Thomas Hardy Arts and Creative Technology PhD studentship

Fully-funded three-year AHRC Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology (REACT) Collaborative PhD Studentship: Thomas Hardy and Heritage

Based at Dorset County Museum and the University of Exeter (Centres for Literature and Archives and for Victorian Studies, College of Humanities), this studentship will be focused on Thomas Hardy and his correspondents. The letters to Hardy (over 4,000) form part of Dorset County Museum's Thomas Hardy Memorial Collection, the largest Hardy collection in the world, selected in 2013 for the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Programme register.

The correspondence reveals Hardy’s involvement in a global network, engaged in social, intellectual and political debates from science and war to education and female emancipation, and includes letters from prominent writers (e.g. Grant Allen, J.M. Barrie, Browning, Havelock Ellis, George Egerton, Gissing, Kipling, T.E. Lawrence, Levy, Meredith, Charlotte Mew, Ezra Pound, Siegfried Sassoon, Swinburne, Wells, Woolf), artists and illustrators (Augustus John, George Du Maurier, Helen Paterson), musicians (e.g. Elgar, Holst), actors, charitable and political organizations, with correspondents from Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Syria, Tasmania and the USA. The correspondence also sheds light on other historically significant individuals and on perceptions of the writer, and on the social practice of letter writing. The letters remain uncatalogued, unpublished and largely unknown, whereas the letters from Hardy are in print (and have been available online since 2012).

The PhD researcher will be based at Dorset County Museum, with supervision, training, mentoring and additional research taking place both at the University of Exeter and the museum. At Exeter, the student will be supervised by Professors Angelique Richardson and Tim Kendall, with Professor Gabriella Giannachi as the project mentor and Gary Stringer as the technical adviser. Dr Jon Murden, DCM Director, will supervise the student’s DCM activities, offering professional advice and support. The postholder will be granted full access to DCM's facilities, library and archival resources.

The project will enable the student to produce original knowledge, providing new contexts for reading Hardy as well as gaining knowledge of and informing the museum's existing multi-disciplinary software development. Working with Exeter's digital humanities team they will have the opportunity to inform the development of new mobile technology to interpret, entertain and educate, enhancing access to the newly catalogued archive, and allowing visitors to interact directly with the letters. In addition, the student will gain valuable skills providing comprehensive summaries and keywords for an international SPECTRUM standard catalogue, and will be expected to develop and disseminate his/her research, informing the museum’s display programme, public talks and outreach initiatives, and working with schools as well as in conjunction with the learning group of the Thomas Hardy Steering Group (partners include Dorset County Museum, Exeter, The National Trust, Bath Spa University, Dorset County Council, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Thomas Hardy Society).

Duration and value of award
The PhD will commence in September 2015, for a period of 3 years, dependent on satisfactory progress. UK/EU level fees will be paid as part of the studentship, together with a maintenance grant which will match the standard Arts and Humanities Research Council rate (£13,863 in 2014/15). Please note that this studentship is only open to UK/EU applicants.

Entry criteria
Applicants will normally have an MA or equivalent in a relevant discipline and should be able to demonstrate an interest in Hardy and Victorian literature and new digital technologies. If English is not your native language then you will need to satisfy our English language entry requirements.

To apply
To be considered for this doctoral award you must complete the online application form submitting a copy of your full CV, transcripts of your previous degree results, contact details for two referees, a covering letter outlining your academic experience and interests and your reasons for wishing to undertake this research project, and, if relevant, proof of your English language proficiency, by 26th April 2015.

All application documents must be submitted in English.

Interviews will be held in Exeter on 19th May. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to prepare a ten-minute presentation on the proposed focus of their PhD research.

For further information or informal discussion about the position, please contact Professor Angelique Richardson at