Doctoral student, Urban history UA (deadline 2 July 2018)

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The Faculty of Arts is seeking to fill a full-time (100 %) vacancy in the Department of History for a

Doctoral student in the area of urban history

The position is offered in the framework of the project “B-magic. The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as Visual Mass Medium in Belgium (1830-1940)”.

B-magic is a four-year EOS-funded project, which started in March 2018 and will be conducted at two Flemish (UAntwerp and KULeuven) and two French-speaking universities (ULB and UCL), in collaboration with an art college (KASK Ghent) and an international partner (UUtrecht). This project will write the as yet unwritten history of the magic lantern as a mass medium in Belgium. The lantern was the first visual mass medium to contest the printed word as a primary mode of information and instruction. The B-magic consortium will research the pivotal role of the magic lantern in Belgian society from the country’s independence (1830) up to 1940, when its use declined. To this end, it brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Performance Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, Urban History, History of Science and Knowledge, Communication Studies, Semiotics, and Narratology. For more information and other available vacancies see

The successful candidate will work on a separate subproject entitled “Mapping of Lantern Infrastructure and its Socio-technological Context” supervised by prof. Ilja Van Damme (Centre for Urban History) and prof. Kurt Vanhoutte (Visual Poetics). The magic lantern was part of the modernizing landscapes of cultural consumption in 19th-century Belgian cities. Initially a trans-border cultural commodity with mass appeal, the lantern became rapidly appropriated and adopted for a wide range of uses and performance contexts. However, nobody has yet researched the local contexts in which lanternists performed. This PhD project will put the rise of the lantern as the first visual mass medium in Belgium in its historical spatial context by looking at 1) spaces of exhibition; 2) organization and distribution; and 3) consumption environment. The PhD will investigate the urban screening facilities and their role in mediating socio-cultural exchange in modernizing cities. The lantern-related infrastructure of Brussels (capital), Antwerp (trade) and Charleroi (industry) will be mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Job description

  • You prepare a doctoral thesis in the field of HISTORY, focusing on “Mapping of Lantern Infrastructure and its Socio-technological Context”.
  • You will study the historical spatial context in which lanternists performed, by looking at
    • spaces of exhibition;
    • organization and distribution;
    • consumption environment.
  • You will use GIS and state-of-the-art spatial methodologies to map the urban lantern infrastructures and its socio-technological context in Brussels, Antwerp and Charleroi.
  • Your research will be conducted within the framework of the Excellence of Science (EOS) project B-Magic The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as Visual Mass Medium in Belgium (1830-1940)
  • You contribute to teaching and research at the Centre for Urban History, at the Department of History, University of Antwerp.

Profile and requirements

  • You hold a master degree in history, art-history, theatre and film studies, or related areas.
  • You can show potential of achieving outstanding academic results.
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy.
  • You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.
  • You are willing and able to work and communicate within a broader team of international researchers.
  • You must be able to demonstrate language proficiency in English (active), Dutch (passive or willingness to learn) and French (passive or willingness to learn).
  • You have gained experience in finding, reading and working with historical sources.
  • You have gained experience or show a willingness to learn GIS-applications and database-related tools and software (excel, access, etc.).
  • Students in the final year of their degree are also encouraged to apply.

We offer

  • a doctoral scholarship for a period of two years, with the possibility of renewal for a further two-year period after positive evaluation;
  • the start date of the scholarship will be 1 October 2018;
  • a gross monthly grant ranging from € 2.324,20 – € 2.469,08;
  • a dynamic and stimulating work environment.

How to apply?

  • Applications may only be submitted online, until the closing date 2 July 2018.
  • Applicants should also upload a statement of experience, qualification and interest, and two letters of recommendation.
  • A pre-selection will be made from amongst the submitted applications. The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection panel.
  • Shortlisted candidates, selected to take part in interviews, will be notified by 20 July 2018. The interviews will take place between 3 and 5 September 2018. Candidates will be expected to propose a short research plan (maximum 3 pages) on the basis of the proposed subproject at the interview.
  • More information about the online application form can be obtained from
  • For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Ilja Van Damme via
  • Candidates that would like to find out more about the project are welcome (but not obliged) to attend The Travelling Lantern symposium on 18 May. More information on the symposium is available on the project website

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