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Cardiff University School of English, Communication and Philosophy 'Serious Brain Power' PhD Studentship: Neo-Victorianism (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R974
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years
Funding Amount: UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend and additional conference funding
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), International (Non EU), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

PhD Studentship in Neo-Victorianism: Victorian and Contemporary Literature

Cardiff’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy is known internationally for the quality of its research in English Literature. In the last Research Assessment Exercise 100% of our research environment was awarded the highest grade (4*, world class). The award holder will join a vibrant and friendly community of some 35 research students working across a number of fields. New students meet the Director of the PGR programme, the Head of School, Director of Research and all the staff who support PGRs, including Finance and IT and a specialist librarian, at an induction event, and all PGR students meet as a body with the Head of School once a year. They are expected to participate in the research seminar series associated with their programme and are encouraged to attend series run in other parts of the School and College. Part of the funding devolved to the English Literature research group in which this project will be based is ring-fenced to support postgraduate workshops, conferences and other events, to (the organisation of) which the award holder will be welcome to contribute. Alongside the University Graduate College’s ‘Starting Out’ induction conference, students from the School regularly participate in the College’s annual student-organised ‘Voice of the Humanities’ conference and have been successful in bidding with colleagues from other disciplines for Graduate College ‘PGR Initiative’ funding for a variety of interdisciplinary seminar series and one-day events.

PGR student support: At the start of their studies PhD students attend a regular thesis workshop with skills training sessions specifically directed at PGRs in English, and, in consultation with their supervisor, choose further training opportunities from a wide variety of workshops offered by the Graduate College. As from their second year, students have the opportunity for teaching on the undergraduate English Literature degree while being supported by the Higher Education Academy-accredited ‘Learning to Teach’ programme. Full-time PhD students are allocated shared study space which provides computing facilities, networked information and access to email and the internet. Our PhD students are supported by an annual conference budget to deliver papers nationally and internationally. They take great pride in developing their academic skills.

Background to the award

This scholarship is attached to the appointment of Professor Ann Heilmann under the University’s ‘Serious Brain Power’ initiative and is related to the university-wide President's Research Scholarships. The ‘Serious Brain Power’ scheme was launched in 2011 to attract outstanding international scholars to Cardiff across the University’s range of disciplines. The School of English, Communication and Philosophy was awarded two appointments under the scheme and is looking for PhD applicants who will contribute to the School’s research excellence through a significant and challenging PhD research project which develops innovative theories, methodological and conceptual approaches, and sophisticated and original debates in the broad field of neo-Victorian studies. The scholarship’s focus on on reimaginings of the Victorian/nineteenth-century past establishes a key strategic link between historical scholarship and contemporary concerns, and connects with wider scholarship conducted in the School beyond neo-Victorian studies, such as work on the Gothic and neo-Gothic.

The project supervisor, Professor Ann Heilmann, has a long-standing international profile in Victorian and neo-Victorian studies, and has previously supervised four PhD projects on neo-Victorianism (eleven PGRs overall). She is the author of the first book to focus on and conceptualise the post-millennial development, Neo-Victorianism: The Victorians in the 21st Century (2010). Her edited work includes Metafiction and Metahistory in Contemporary Women’s Writing (2007) as well as of a forthcoming special issue for Victoriographies on Neo-Victorian Masculinities. The successful candidate will join a team of researchers, including an AHRC-funded student working in the field. S/he will have the opportunity to participate in research events (including planning) and interact with (inter)national scholars.

Project focus

The twenty-first century is experiencing growing levels of literary and cultural interest in the Victorians. The greater the temporal distance to the Victorians, the more it appears we are preoccupied with the period on the imaginative plane. English literature and literary criticism – and increasingly also the literatures of other nations - have been invigorated by a proliferation of novels set in the Victorian age (and/or the nineteenth century), which revisit the plots and mimic the style of prominent Victorian and wider nineteenth-century texts, reinvent and fictionalize historical figures, and ventriloquise contemporary concerns through an exploration of the anxieties and desires of nineteenth-century characters. At the intersection of postmodernism, metafiction, historiography and cultural nostalgia, this revitalized mode of what has come to be conceptualised as the ‘neo-Victorian’ has captured literary fiction as well as popular culture and screen and TV adaptation. The nature of this appropriation of the nineteenth century and specifically the Victorian period into a range of literary, artistic, cultural, political and economic discourses related to heritage offers extensive scope for innovative doctoral work which crosses disciplinary boundaries (literature and history; cultural, gender and film studies; English, transatlantic and European literatures; English literature, postcolonialism and global contexts).

The successful applicant will research an aspect of contemporary neo-Victorian studies and will be encouraged to contribute to the wider debates about the genre of neo-Victorianism through research seminar and conference participation, symposia (co)organisation and publications in appropriate venues. S/he will join a buoyant research group of academics and doctoral researchers in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. This scholarship is designed for a candidate aiming for an academic career, and the mentoring provided within the award will equip the successful award holder with the skills and experience necessary to enter the profession, with training in conference organisation, peer review, and research grant application processes.

Supervisor: Prof Ann Heilmann

Start Date: October 2013


Funding for this project is generously provided by the University's 'Serious Brain Power' initiative related to the President's Research Scholarship programme. The full award includes UK/EU tuition fees, along with a doctoral stipend matching the UK Research Council National Minimum (£13,590 p.a. for 2012/13, updated each year). International students must fund the difference between the UK/EU fees and the international fees.

There is additional funding of £330 p.a., or £1,000 over three years, available to fund conference paper delivery.

Number of Awards Available: 1


Residency: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open for applicants of any nationality. Non UK/EU students would be required to cover the difference between UK and International fees themselves.

Academic Criteria: We require a minimum degree classification of 2.1 or higher. Additionally, a Master’s degree is required, in English Literature or a related discipline.

Additional experience requirements: Evidence of prior study of both Victorian and contemporary literature; evidence of sustained essay production at MA level.

How to Apply

Applicants need to apply for the PhD in English Literature at the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, October 2013 start date. Applicants also need to submit the following supporting documents:

Applicants whose first language is not English must also provide evidence of an overall IELTS score of at least 7.0.

To be considered for the Neo-Victorian scholarship applicants need to have been accepted on to the PhD programme by 22nd February 2013. There is no separate application form for this President's Scholarship.

Applicants should state 'Neo-Victorian Scholarship' in the 'funding section' of the PhD application form.'

Format of required research proposal:

  1. Working title of thesis. The title (and./or sub-title) should identify what particular angle the thesis is proposing to take on neo-Victorianism
  2. Outline of proposed research: What is the thesis going to focus on in the broader field of neo-Victorianism? What are the central research questions? How does the thesis locate itself in the field, i.e. how does the proposed research relate to existing international scholarship and what new and original angle(s) and approaches will the research project bring to the field? What research methods and critical framework(s) are likely to be applied?
  3. An outline of the likely chapter structure (with proposed chapter titles and a paragraph on each chapter, including details of texts/authors to be studied)
  4. A working bibliography (primary and secondary)

Application Deadline: 22 Feb 2013

Further Information

For further information or enquiries, please contact Prof Ann Heilmann,

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