Offre d’emploi – 3-Year PhD position within the ERC Project « SenSArt – The Sensuous Appeal of the Holy »

PhD Course: History, criticism and preservation of cultural heritage

University of Padua, Department of Cultural Heritage
Contract: Limited duration, 3 years, starting from 1 October 2022
Occupancy rate: 100%

Deadline : 13 May

We invite applications for one PhD position within the ERC Starting Grant Project “The Sensuous Appeal of the Holy. Sensory Agency of Sacred Art and Somatised Spiritual Experiences in Medieval Europe (12th-15th century)”, Grant Agreement number 950248, Universita degli Studi di Padova, Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali, Pl Zuleika Murat.

The Project
Art moves the eyes. However, is sight the only sense we use to appreciate it? This is a crucial question for Western culture, dominated today by the hegemony of vision and the suppression of the other senses. By challenging the current ocularcentric paradigm and assimilating notions on the cultural values of sensation, SenSArt provides an examination of medieval sacred art from the unconventional lens of its sensory agency.

Between the 12th and the 15th century, Europe underwent an extraordinary artistic evolution and an impressive cultural revitalization, which sparked a reassessment of the role of sensory perception in systems of knowledge and spiritual enlightenment. SenSArt explores and compares different social environments in six selected regions, pursuing three groundbreaking objectives: A) it will analyse quantitatively and qualitatively the perceptual schemes that oriented the reception of sacred art, scrutinizing how art solicited its beholders through multiple sensory inputs; B) it will investigate the notion of ‘sensory agency’ of art, establishing sacred art as a primary actor capable of exerting, through sensorial stimulation or deprivation, a social agency on its audience; C) it will provide an overall phenomenology of experiences on a European scale, by comparing the diverse patterns that different social groups lived on a local, regional and supranational scale.

SenSArt will achieve its goals by developing a new combined approach at the crossroads of Art History, Philosophy and Text Studies; it will establish a multidisciplinary team of scholars to delve into a comparative set of materials, including normative texts on the senses and works of art.

We are looking for one highly motivated and creative PhD candidate with an art- historical profile. They will work in team with the Principal Investigator and associate researchers.

In line with the objectives and methodologies of the ERC project SenSArt, the PhD candidate will focus on the Low Countries (12th-15th century). They will examine the types of artworks adopted in the Socio-Sensory Environments of the region surveyed, considering both the surviving works of art and those cited in the archival documents and now lost, together with relevant immaterial practices. The study of objects will contemplate different aspects and will focus on two features in particular: 1) the mechanisms through which the artworks stimulated the senses of the beholder; 2) the procedures by which the beholder activated the multisensory potential of the objects, through multimodal devotional practices. In addition to works of art, and in relation to the specific materials of investigation, the PhD candidate will also examine texts about the senses in practice, including records of people’s daily lives and archival materials.

The PhD candidate will be involved in seminars and conferences, and in all the scheduled internal workshops and team meetings. They will present papers and produce on a regular base journal articles and book chapters as envisaged by the project outline. Moreover, they will provide raw data, entries and reports for the envisaged digital archive and website.

Qualifications and Required Skills
MA degree in Art History or relevant field, with a focus on the Middle Ages. Sufficient knowledge of French or Dutch, and English. Candidates are expected to be familiar with the major historical, artistic, spiritual, and socio-cultural phenomena of the region under examination in the selected period.

Preliminary Time Line
°13 May 2022: Application deadline;
¢ 7 June 2022: Shortlisting is complete, results published online, together with the date and time of the interviews;
¢ 15-16 June 2022: The interviews take place, either in person or via Zoom.

How to Apply
Applications should be made via Pica:
Applicants should submit:
*A CV, with list of the modules/exams undertaken and the marks obtained, list of publications (if any), clear indication of the degrees obtained, and any other relevant information;
*Digital copies of university degrees;
* Copy of their MA thesis, with a 10.000 world-length abstract detailing the topic, methodology and achievements (either in English or in Italian);
*A maximum of five publications (appeared between 2019 and 2022, or accepted for publications) can be submitted;
*Aresearch project of maximum 20.000 characters (in English or Italian).

Further instructions on how to complete the applications, and on the materials that need to be submitted, are available at:

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Réseau des médiévistes belges de langue française
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