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Opportunity: Research Associate Digital Humanities

21 July 2013

Closing Date for applications: 1 September 2013.
Start date for successful candidates: 30 September 2013

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The UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS), in collaboration with the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, invites applications for a part-time (50% FTE) research associate (post-doc) position, for the duration of three years (2013‒16).

The successful applicant will work as part of an international team based at UCL and the universities of Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Trier (Germany), on an exciting multi-disciplinary project – examining ‘asymmetrical encounters’ between larger and smaller European states, the question how the large and cultural powerful countries Britain, France, and  Germany influenced public debates in smaller countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (and vice versa where applicable). Using innovative digital techniques the project team will mine and analyse digital collections of the National Library of the Netherlands, the British Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg and other European libraries with large repositories of digitised newspapers and periodicals. Text mining and sentiment mining open up the perspective of a quantitative approach to the history of mentalities, allowing researchers to discover long-term developments and turning points in public debates, as well as to map vectors of cross-cultural influences.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the sub-project ‘Metropolitan Encounters: References to European Cities and Metropolitan Centres in Public Debates about Modernization, Diversity, and Identity’. This project analyses the ways in which metropolitan issues were discussed in 19th and 20th century European public debates. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, large urban centres such as London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and St. Petersburg served as symbols of both modernization and national identity, offering different solutions to challenges of urbanization and demographical concentration. The Metropolis captured the European imagination as both utopian dream and dystopian nightmare, and developed into an enduring theme in literature, the arts, photography, and movies. The aim of this project is to use digital humanities tools to investigate references to these European metropolitan centres in collections of digitized newspapers in various European collections.

The position is part of the research project “Asymmetrical Encounters: Digital Humanities Approaches to Reference Cultures in Europe, 1815–1992”, funded as part of the HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) Joint Research Programme ‘Cultural Encounters’ (2013–16), under the overall supervision of professor Joris van Eijnatten in Utrecht. This project will explore the cultural aspects of European identity by analysing the role of “reference cultures” in European public debates between 1815 and 1992, using digital humanities methodology to study long-term developments and transformations of cultural imaginaries in a systematic, longitudinal, and quantifiable way. The project will explore case studies such as the public perception of the rapidly growing European metropolis, the spread of the commercial entertainment industry in the form of musicals, football and pop music, and the emergence of new consumer products. The broader objective of the appointment will be to conduct the case study on European metropoles to explore the concept of reference cultures as a way to understand asymmetrical cultural encounters.

The project is jointly conducted at UCL and the universities of Utrecht and Trier. Whilst based at UCL, the appointee will get the opportunity to fully engage with other members of the team with whom they will be in regular contact.

Start date for successful candidate: 30 September 2013.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  • Conduct the research project as outlined above, resulting in both individual and collaborative publications, at least two peer-reviewed journal articles and one book-length manuscript together;
  • Work in a team of researchers to analyse how e-tools can be used to discover long-term developments and turning points in public debates, and to map the vectors of cross-cultural influences;
  • Participate in project meetings, workshops and conferences according to grant specifications and adopt responsibility for the dissemination of research findings to a wider public;
  • Contribute to developing international grant proposals related to this project;
  • Complete mandatory training courses that may be required to comply with UCL policy for research associates.
  • Actively follow UCL policies, including Equal Opportunities.
  • Observe fire and health and safety regulations.
  • Carry out any other duties within the scope, spirit and purpose of the project as may be reasonably required by the Principal Investigator in consultation with the Project Lead and the Director of the School of European Languages, Culture and Society;
  • The opportunity to teach on courses related to the project will be given.

Person Specification



  • Expert knowledge of European (cultural) history.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English as well as reading skills in German, French and/or Dutch.
  • Native or near-native competence in English.
Skills and Experience


  • Research experience and publications related to modern European history, history of mass culture or the history of mass media;
  • Ability to work productively in an international, interdisciplinary team and to produce high-quality documents, reports and publications to time deadlines;
  • Ability to manage a varied workload whilst still being able to meet strict deadlines and displaying evidence of the ability to complete tasks and projects to a high standard with minimum supervision.
  • A positive and flexible attitude with a willingness to take on new areas and to contribute on an equal footing to the development of the collaborative research.


  • Affinity with both quantitative and qualitative research methods.
  • Affinity with digital tools in the Humanities.
  • Ability to create and maintain a dynamic website.
  • A confident disposition with the ability to present complex topics to a variety of audiences, and to produce and deliver dynamic presentations with ease and speed.
  • Teaching experience in European history and/or Digital Humanities.


  •     PhD in History or a related subject (or equivalent experience).
Personal Qualities


  • Ability to work under minimum of supervisory control and exercise initiative in well-defined areas of work, with the ability to schedule tasks accordingly.
  • Commitment to continuous professional development.
  • Commitment to UCL’s policy of equal opportunity and the ability to work well with colleagues and students of all cultures and backgrounds.

Application process

If you have any queries regarding the vacancy, please contact the British Principal Investigator, Ulrich Tiedau, u.tiedau [at] ucl ac uk.

For queries about the application process, please contact the School Finance and Staffing Officer, Farbin Begum, farbin.begum [at] ucl ac uk.


Closing Date for applications: 25 August 2013.
Start date for successful candidates: 30 September 2013

This appointment is subject to UCL Terms and Conditions of Service for Research and Support Staff. Please use these links to find out more about the UCL Terms and Conditions related to this job, employee benefits that we offer and further information about UCL.

UCL Department / Division School of European Languages, Culture and Society (Dept. of Dutch)
Grade 7
Hours Part Time
Hours per week (%FTE) 18.25 hours (50% FTE)
Salary (inclusive of London allowance) £32,375 per annum (pro rata)
Salary pro rata for part time vacancies

Page last modified on 19 aug 13 15:15 by Ulrich Tiedau