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  3. Postdoc Researcher ERC Starting Grant NaturalPhilosophy (1.0 FTE)

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Postdoc Researcher ERC Starting Grant NaturalPhilosophy (1.0 FTE)

Project outline
Early modern natural philosophy underwent dramatic transformations that completely reshaped its conceptual framework and set of practices. The main contention of this ERC project is that teaching practices had a decisive and ‘normalising’ impact on the progressiv

9 maanden geleden


Broerstraat, Groningen, Groningen
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 3796 - € 3796 per maand


Project outline
Early modern natural philosophy underwent dramatic transformations that completely reshaped its conceptual framework and set of practices. The main contention of this ERC project is that teaching practices had a decisive and ‘normalising’ impact on the progressive dissemination, adaptation and selection of rival conceptions of natural philosophy. Normalisation occurs when historical actors collectively present certain tenets as crucial for the study of a discipline, and thus prescribe them as a necessary subject for teaching and learning.
The overall aim of this ERC project is to determine and explain how the process of normalisation embedded in teaching practices shaped the evolution of early modern natural philosophy. To study normalisation, it is necessary to operate a systematic comparative investigation of hundreds of works through which natural philosophy was taught, learned and reshaped, both within and outside universities. The size of this corpus defies the traditional method of close reading used by historians of philosophy and science.
This project will meet this challenge by organically integrating close reading with digital ‘distant reading’. The project will digitally transcribe a corpus of approximately 500 early modern works on natural philosophy, published in Britain, France and the Dutch Republic. Using digital tools to investigate how the networks of authors and concepts of natural philosophy co-evolved over time will allow the project team to identify textual excerpts that are representative of historical trends. By analysing these excerpts with close reading and assessing them against the digital results, it will be possible to determine and explain how normalisation shaped the evolution of natural philosophy.
This project aims to boost the integration of digital approaches in the history of philosophy and science by producing a newly digitised corpus, tools customized for analysing early modern texts, and methodological reflections on their implementation.

We offer a 3-year postdoc position in the context of the ERC Starting Grant NaturalPhilosophy.
The postdoc will have a strong background in digital humanities. S/he will operate as the research interface for the different members of the project and will ensure the effective coordination and integration of their work.
In particular, the postdoc will have three main tasks:

- s/he will assist the PI in the initial definition of the corpus, supervise the OCR routine, and supervise the setting up of the digital infrastructure
- s/he will actively contribute to the discussions within the research team about the in-progress results from the point of view of the implementation of the digital approaches to the study of the project’s corpus
- s/he will take the project as a case study to analyse best practices, strategies and methodologies involved in the integration of distant and close reading in historical research in early modern philosophy and science.


• PhD in digital humanities or philosophy, or closely related fields; the PhD degree must be obtained before the beginning of the appointment (i.e. by January 2019)
• strong demonstrable familiarity with both technical and methodological issues connected with the implementation of digital approaches to humanities fields such as those of history, philosophy and history of philosophy and science
• excellent command of English, both in writing and in speaking; knowledge of Dutch is not required
• intellectual drive, enthusiasm and open-mindedness, international network or record of international collaboration
• not strictly necessary, but highly appreciated: some demonstrable familiarity with coding and programming.


The University of Groningen offers a salary depending on qualifications and work experience starting from a minimum of € 2,640 (salary scale 10 Dutch Universities) to a maximum of € 3,796 gross (salary scale 11.2) for a full-time position, excluding 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus and participation in a pension scheme for employees. A fiscal facility pertaining to extraterritorial costs (the 30% facility) may be applicable if the rules of Dutch tax law permit this. The position is for a period of three years, fulltime.

Starting date: January 2019

You may apply for this position until 10 October 11.59pm / before 11 October 2018 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The application should include the following:
1. A cover letter (of no more than 1500 words) providing concrete and demonstrable evidence that the candidate fulfils the requirements for the position and outlining the candidate’s motivation for joining the project
2. CV and list of publications
3. The names and contact details of three referees and an indication whether we can contact them at this stage
4. A sample of written work (no more than 8000 words) that is relevant to this position; it may be a published or unpublished sample and may be an extract from a longer piece.

A shortlist of candidates will be made at the end of October 2018; Skype interviews will take place in early November 2018 and a final decision will be reached soon thereafter.

We strongly encourage candidates from any underrepresented or minority background to apply.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

Dr A. Sangiacomo, Chair of the search committee