Offre d’emploi – PhD Position in the ERC Starting Grant project Pages of Prayer (Universiteit Leiden)

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) invites applications for a

PhD Position in the ERC Starting Grant project Pages of Prayer: The Ecosystem of Vernacular Prayer Books in the Late Medieval Low Countries, c. 1380-1550 (PRAYER)

Vacancy number 22-688 12767

The PhD candidate will be working within the ERC Starting Grant research project PRAYER, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) for 2023-2028, and directed by dr. A. (Anna) Dlabačová (University lecturer in Book History at Leiden University).

Vernacular prayer books were by far the most commonly read books in the late medieval Low Countries. The mainstay of this vast corpus is the Book of Hours in the translation by Geert Grote, founder of one of the period’s most powerful religious reform movements.

PRAYER sets out to conduct the first large-scale investigation of this unique corpus by introducing a new approach – network philology – that studies all aspects of vernacular prayer books in their mutual interdependence. The project aims to chart the entire ecosystem of Dutch-language prayer books over a long period of time by combining quantitative network analysis with advanced qualitative analysis.

The nature of the material requires this research to be tackled within a multidisciplinary project. All members contribute to the digital network analysis. Sections of the ecosystem are further analyzed in work-packages that focus on the production and reception of manuscripts, the poetics of prayer, the function of images, and changes and continuities in relation to religious movements and the advent of print.

PRAYER will yield an integrative understanding of the role of prayer books in the late medieval Low Countries on the threshold of the medieval and early modern era.

The PhD candidate will contribute to the set-up of a database and the acquisition of data on Middle Dutch prayer books. The PhD-candidate will work on the subproject Mapping the manuscript prayer book: Production centres and readers and use the dataset to explore questions that focus on manuscript production: the location of centres of production, changes within their production, as well as any possible specialisations of certain production centres or regions, and the dissemination and reception of the manuscripts. Based on the exploration the PhD-candidate will select at leastfour production centres of manuscript prayer booksfor a close analysis of their history and their production of prayer books, the reception of these books by buyers/owners as well as the relations to other production centres in the ecosystem.

Key Responsibilities

  • Completing a PhD thesis (in English) based on published peer-reviewed articles (see below) within four years;
  • Individually authoring and publishing at least three articles in a peer-reviewed journal; and at least one co-authored article;
  • Contributing to the set-up of the PRAYER database and the subsequent network analysis, in collaboration with the PI and a data specialist;
  • Conducting research on Middle Dutch manuscript prayer books;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Participating in the training programme of the LUCAS Institute, the Leiden Graduate School of Humanities, the Dutch Research School for Medieval Studies, and other relevant masterclasses, discussion groups, seminars, workshops, and events;
  • Participating in the PhD community and the intellectual life of the Institute, in particular within the Medieval and Early Modern Studies cluster (;
  • Contributing to the organization of the events and activities within the project, including the project’s sessions at an international conference at the start of year 3 and an international conference at the end of year 4.

Selection criteria

  • A ResMA/MRes or MA in Medieval Studies, (Book) History, Middle Dutch Literature, Digital Humanities or Religious Studies, with a thesis on a medieval manuscript related topic, preferably focusing on the late medieval period, awarded by time of appointment, and a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale (or equivalent);
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate creative research questions, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Willingness to travel to libraries in the Netherlands and abroad;
  • Excellent competence in English, as well as reading competence in Middle Dutch and Dutch
  • Experience with manuscript research and palaeography;
  • A strong interest in digital approaches, knowledge of digital humanities and/or the willingness to acquire digital skills;
  • Knowledge of late medieval religious culture and/or religious literature will be considered a plus;
  • Team player and independent thinker;
  • Ability to finish the proposed PhD research in 4 years.

International candidates are encouraged to apply but must be willing to relocate to the Netherlands for the duration of the project.

The organization
The Faculty of Humanities is a unique international centre for the advanced study of languages, cultures, arts, and societies worldwide, in their historical contexts from prehistory to the present. Our faculty is home to more than 6,000 students and 800 staff members. For more information see
The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of the seven Research Institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS is dedicated to ground-breaking research that explores the multifaceted relationships between the arts and society. For more information see

Terms and conditions
PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week), starting date 1 March 2023. Initially the employee will receive a 14 month contract, with extension for the following 34 months on condition of a positive evaluation. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from € 2,541 to € 3,247 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).
Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information:


Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Enquiries about the project, the position and the procedure can be addressed to Mariska de Groot, e-mail: Information about LUCAS and links to staff expertise can be found at

Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents in a single PDF, quoting the vacancy number

Please submit your application online (in English) via the blue button in our application system, no later than 30 November 2022, 23:59 CEST.

  • Letter of application with a motivation statement of 1000 words max., in which you formulate your special interest in the PhD project and some first ideas about how you would frame/approach it
  • Your CV, listing education and possibly employment history, and any other academic achievements (conference presentations, publications, organization of events, etc.);
  • Names, positions and contact information for two referees (no reference letters). Please only list these in the PDF and not in the dedicated fields in the online application system;
  • A copy of your MA-thesis;
  • Copies of relevant course assessments;
  • Your MA degree certificate.

Interviews will take place medio December.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated

Source : Universiteit Leiden

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