School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS)



In any given year, SELCS academic staff and research associates supervise more than 100 postgraduate research (PhD) students. 

Current Research Projects

A selection of projects by current research students in SELCS:

Josh Torabi  - Music, Myth and Modernism: from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy to Romain Rolland's Jean Christophe, James Joyce's Ulysses and Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus

My PhD research focuses on representations of music and myth in Romain Rolland’s Jean-Christophe, James Joyce’s Ulysses and Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, taking as a starting point Nietzsche’s early model of aesthetic mythology in relation to the ‘spirit of music,’ presented in The Birth of Tragedy as the foundation of all art. The core of this research will then be to juxtapose Nietzsche’s theories of music and myth, particularly the Apollo/Dionysus dichotomy and his conception of Dionysian music, against the literary depictions of music and myth in Jean-Christophe, Ulysses and Doctor Faustus. Additionally, I will address four key related research questions in new and original contexts: (1) to establish Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy as a referential framework from which to approach representations of music and myth in literature; (2) to consider how the literary portrayal of music and myth can improve our understanding of a novel’s major themes, characters and narrative, and thus inform our reading; (3) to explore the similar functions that music and myth perform in these texts; (4) to critically evaluate the intellectual history and significance of the link between music and myth from Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy to literary modernism. Moreover, I will focus on the development of literary uses of myth for modernist ends in Ulysses (with reference to Homer’s Odyssey) and in Doctor Faustus (with reference to Goethe’s Faust, particularly part two). It is here that I will emphasize the unique perspective that can be gained on the often nebulous relationship between music and literature through a consideration of myths in which music plays a central part.

Postdoctoral Research

Together with the UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies (SSEES), SELCS offers degrees that include the study of 20 languages (Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Faroese, Hungarian, German, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian/Croatian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian). Use the link below to read more about our current Postdoctoral Research opportunities.

Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

Range of languages

We focus on Dutch (including Flemish), French, Dutch-speaking, Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean, German (including Austrian), Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Old Norse and Icelandic.

The programmes taught in School draw upon most of 30 or so ancient and modern languages taught at UCL. In addition, many programmes permit students to take courses in departments outside the School or at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE).

Geographical regions

The teaching and research interests of SELCS staff embrace Western Europe - Eastern Europe is covered by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), with whom SELCS collaborates closely - and regions in which languages originating from Western Europe are spoken, for example Latin America, including the Caribbean, and the Maghreb.

Research themes

Themes we examine include colonialism and postcolonialism, cultural history, digital humanities, feminist theory, film, gender, language and language learning, linguistics, literature, history, history of analytical psychology and psychoanalysis, intellectual history, literary criticism, manuscript studies and book history, memory, national identity, politics and political philosophy, queer theory and gay studies, translation studies, travel writing, women’s writing, visual art.


SELCS’s most important research resource, other than its staff, is the remarkable concentration of libraries and research institutes in the immediate vicinity, including but not limited to:

All are accessible without charge to UCL staff and students. These resources, besides their collections of books, articles, videos, sound recordings and, increasingly important, non-public online resources, offer a wide range of seminars, lecture series and other opportunities to meet and exchange ideas.

Research Awards

UCL Discovery

You can also browse journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, digital web resources and more at:

Staff Research Interests