PhD Huygens ING: Digital Script Analysis (deadline 6 April 2018)

Huygens ING researches texts and sources from the past with the aid of new methods and techniques. The Institute champions innovation in research methodology, as well as a better comprehension of Dutch culture and history amonga broad public.

At Huygens ING, the main focus is on giving access to historical sources and on the development of digital tools to do so: new technology to give access to history. Huygens ING has researcher groups in the field of history, history of science, literary history and digital tool development.

In the framework of a project financed by the Onderzoeksfonds KNAW-Instituten Digital Forensics for Historical Documents: Cracking Cold Cases with New Technology, Huygens ING has a vacancy for:

a PhD student ‘Digital Script Analysis in the World of Anonymous Writers’
38 hours a week (1.0 fte) for 3 years

The Project
The project Digital Forensics sits on the crossroads of Digital Humanities and Manuscript Research: it aims to develop a deep learning system that will enable us to determine when, where and by whom historical handwritten texts were created. In this subproject, which is linked to one other subproject (Writer identification in historical material from the VOC administration), the possibilities of digital image analysis in large, open access collections of medieval manuscript images are explored.

The full text of the proposal can be found at:

Aim- and Job description
The subproject Script Analysis in the World of Anonymous Writers aims at developing a digital learning system to filter available online images of manuscripts for ‘matches’ – that is, for images that show a similar script. On the one hand, it is the challenge of the researcher to deduce how to instruct the automatic system to look for similarity and difference. On the other hand, however, the project uses existing datasets with meta-information about the images (identifying dating, localization, content) in order to both instruct the system and check the results that it yields. The research will build on the fundaments that have been laid by projects that have previously explored automatic methods for handwritten text analysis: Monk, Transkribus, DigiPal (P. Stokes e.a.) and Artificial Palaeography (D.
Stutzmann e.a.). The main tasks of the PhD student will thus be to:
– test and finetune existing systems for handwritten text analysis and create datasets for training the deep learning system;
– carefully analyze how the system can be made to deliver useful results, and how it fails;
– participate in expert meetings and conferences;
– produce a PhD thesis, preferably in the form of four separately published articles brought together in one thesis with a sound synthesizing introduction and conclusion;
– participate in activities to ensure the public outreach of the project.

The research team consists of Prof.dr. E. Kwakkel (Leiden University), Prof. dr. M.J. Teeuwen (Huygens ING Amsterdam and Utrecht University), Drs. R. van Koert (Huygens ING/Humanities Cluster Amsterdam) and Dr. M. van Rossum (International Institute for Social History Amsterdam). The IT part of the research will be firmly embedded in an expertise group at the Humanities Cluster in Amsterdam.

Position requirements
We are looking for a candidate who is both knowledgeable and passionate about the world of the medieval manuscript and digital humanities, and who has:
– a MA in Digital Humanities, Medieval Studies, Manuscript Studies or a related field of research;
– expertise in the field of Digital Humanities, manuscript studies, palaeography and codicology;
– basic mathematical skills
– excellent skills in English (both writing and speaking);
– good reading skills in French and German;
– basic reading skills in Latin;
– an interest in reaching out to a wider public;
– the capacity to work creatively and independently;
– the ability to work in a team, to share results and collaborate.

The project is housed at Huygens ING, a research institute of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, KNAW). It is housed at the ‘Spinhuis’, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, right in the centre of Amsterdam.

Appointment and Salary
We offer a fixed-term position as PhD student for a period of 36 months full time (with an evaluation after 6 months), starting on 1 June 2018 and ending on 31 May 2021. Salary ranges from € 2.222,- (first year) to € 2.709,- (last year) gross per month (scale P, Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities). Huygens ING 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. Applicants must have the right to work in the Netherlands for the duration of the contract.

For further specific information about the position, you may contact Prof. dr. M.J. Teeuwen, For general information about the position of PhD student, you may contact the HR department,

Please send your application by email to attn. Pamela Langerak (HR Adviser), no later than April 6, 2018. In the subject line, please state the following: PhDHuygensING.
Your application should include:
1. a cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position;
2. a full curriculum vitae;
3. the names and email addresses of two referees.

Interviews are scheduled on 16 and 17 April 2018.

For additional information and updates, please visit the vacancy on the website of Huygens ING.

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