The British Library is collaborating with Durham University to offer a fully-funded full-time or part-time PhD studentship via the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme. The studentâs research will focus on the legend of Alexander the Great, and the successful applicant will be supervised by Dr Venetia Bridges (Durham) and Dr Peter Toth (British Library).
Alexander the Great on Fortuneâs Wheel, in a French chronicle of the ancient world (France, 3rd quarter of the 15th century): Harley MS 4376, f. 271r (detail)
Alexander the Great is one of the most fascinating figures of the ancient world. He conquered the world from Greece to India in less than 10 years. Although he died in 323 BC when he was only 33, Alexander's legacy continues to influence European, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures.
Alexander the Great, anointed by the personification of Philosophy, in a Latin version of the Alexander Romance (England, last quarter of the 11th century): Royal MS 13 A I, f. 1v
In the last two millennia, Alexander the Great has been represented as a magician, a scientist, a statesman, a philosopher and as one of the greatest explorers of humankind. The British Libraryâs collection of materials relating to the legend of Alexander provides an exceptional opportunity for PhD research into his immense impact on European literary culture from a transnational and multilingual perspective. As a student at Durham but working on the British Libraryâs collections, the successful applicant will have a unique opportunity to study the fascinating Alexander legends in their primary sources. This studentship will coincide with an exhibition about the legends of Alexander to be held at the British Library in late 2022.
Alexander the Great fighting the headless blemmyae in a French version of the Alexander Romance (Flanders 1st quarter of the 14th century): Harley MS 4979, f. 72v (detail)
Legends of Alexanderâs life and conquests were combined into a narrative, known as the Alexander Romance, soon after his death. This compilation quickly became a âbest-sellerâ, with translations in almost every language of the medieval Mediterranean, including Latin, Armenian, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, Persian, English, French and German. Moreover, many of these texts are lavishly decorated with fascinating combinations of ancient and medieval imagery.
Applicants are invited to propose a multilingual and comparative project on Alexanderâs reception from Late Antiquity to the close of the Middle Ages in European contexts, with a particular focus on the Alexander Romance. The proposal should focus on texts in more than one language, and include manuscripts in the Libraryâs collections. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- the Alexander Romanceâs influence upon high medieval literature (11th-13th centuries);
- the Alexander Romanceâs influence on travel and scientific literature and geographical exploration;
- the Alexander Romanceâs dissemination in the later Middle Ages (14th-15th centuries) in translations, adaptations and material witnesses;
- a comparative study of the Alexander Romance in Western (European) and Eastern (Byzantine and Slavonic) versions;
- the role of Alexander in royal and religious propaganda, including ânationalistâ historiographies and Crusader literature;
- a study of key medieval manuscripts and/or texts related to the Alexander Romance that demonstrate aspects of Alexanderâs appropriation in different cultures;
- the Late Antique beginnings of the Alexander Romanceâs textual histories.
The successful applicant will have multilingual interests in medieval and/or late Antique literature and culture with reading fluency in at least two European languages. Applicants should have received a first or high upper-second class honours degree and a masterâs either achieved or completed by the time of taking up the doctoral study, both in a relevant discipline. Applicants must satisfy the standard UKRI eligibility criteria.
For the academic year 2020-21 the student stipend will be ÂŁ16,885, consisting of ÂŁ15,285 basic stipend, a maintenance payment of ÂŁ600 and an additional allowance of ÂŁ1,000. The British Library will also provide a research allowance to the student for agreed research-related costs of up to ÂŁ1,000 a year.
The studentship is fully funded for 3 years and 9 months full-time or part-time equivalent, with the potential to be extended by a further 3 months to provide additional professional development opportunities.
For full details and how to apply, please visit https://www.dur.ac.uk/english.studies/postgrad/support/
The deadline for applications, including references, is 5pm on 29 May 2020.
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