Doctoral Researcher, The Presence of Classics in Early Modern Book History

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 15 Mar 2024

The Faculty of Arts and MECANO MSCA Doctoral Network invite applications for a

Doctoral Researcher

to a fixed-term employment for 3 years, with the possibility of a one-year extension contract.

We invite applications for a dynamic and versatile PhD position titled "The Presence of Classics in Early Modern Book History". This position is part of a vibrant and multidisciplinary research community focused on applying computational approaches to the study of large early modern data sources (especially British). We are seeking candidates who can, together with us, bridge the gap between humanities and data science and contribute to our exploration of conceptual change, intertextuality, and statistical analysis of knowledge production in history.

The aim of this PhD project is to study the reuse of Latin texts in Early Modern England. The Helsinki Computational History Group has used automated methods to detect all the instances of text reuse in the largest collections of printed data for British books (1470–1800, > 250.000 works) available in machine-readable form: Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), Early English Books Online (EEBO-tcp phase II) and British Library Newspapers. The result is a massive dataset of linked text-reuse fragments, which are qualified, clustered and compared. Based on this dataset, the project will focus on the text reuse of a selected group of Latin scientific authors such as Lucretius, Pliny the Elder, and Vitruvius, and their reception and reuse in Early modern works.

Host institution: University of Helsinki (Finland)

PhD programme:  PhD in Digital Humanities

Main supervisor: prof. Mikko Tolonen (University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Digital Humanities)

Second supervisor: prof. Margherita Fantoli (KU Leuven, Faculty of Arts, Digital Humanities)

Mobility rule: has not resided in Finland for more than 12 months in the 36 months preceding appointment

Tasks of the PhD candidate:

• Completion of a PhD thesis within four years (1,0 fte, contract for three years, possibility for extension contract for fourth year);

• Participation in the general training programme of the doctoral network (kick-off, monthly online research meetings, annual workshops and schools, and final conference)

• Collaboration with a multidisciplinary research group focused on the intersection of computational science, linguistics, and history/cultural heritage.

• Active contribution to research on public discourse, conceptual change, and knowledge production.

• Use of computational approaches for the analysis of historical digital collections.

• Participation in joint publications and engagement in academic service.

Planned secondments: (1) Centre for Scientific Computing in Finland (CSC) (3 months): developing a subsetting tool to deal with noisy content; contributing to scripts for data processing, harmonisation, and modelling); (2) KU Leuven (6 months): fine-tuning the retrieval of Latin authors; studying textual features of Latin scientific and technical texts)


We believe in flexibility when selecting the ideal candidate; therefore, the below requirements are adaptable. You can approach this position from either (or both) of the following backgrounds:

Option 1: MA thesis in Classics, Early Modern Studies or Intellectual History

• A proven track record in use of computational approaches.

• Familiarity with Classics or early modern British data sources.

• Ability to conduct multidisciplinary research.

• Interest to connect different research communities.

Option 2: Computational Background

• MA / MPhil degree in Digital Humanities, Data Science, AI/NLP, Information Science, or related fields, held by time of appointment (if the degree is not yet obtained at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be obtained by time of appointment).

• Demonstrated experience in applying computational methods.

• Capability to bridge the gap between data science and the humanities.

• Strong research and analytical skills.

This PhD position is part of a broader research community that includes different projects focusing on ECCO and EEBO sources, and which utilise historical full-text collections and large metadata collections in English, Latin and other languages. We are particularly interested in candidates who can enrich our understanding of the presence of classics in early modern book history.

Degree requirement for doctoral researcher position: The appointee must apply, and obtain, the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki within the probationary period of 6 months:

Applicants must not hold a doctoral degree in any other field or have failed a corresponding doctoral examination at another higher education institution.

The University of Helsinki is committed to promoting equality and preventing discrimination in all its operations. We welcome applicants from a variety of gender identities, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.


The University of Helsinki offers the appointee a first-class research and teaching environment as well as the preconditions necessary for international cooperation ( ).

The position is full-time for 3 years with a possible extension contract for fourth year. The employment contract will include a probationary period of six months.

The salary is competitive and complies with the MSC Work Programme: appr. 3550 €/month, including Mobility allowance, after compulsory deductions. A conditional Family allowance of appr. 500 € can be added to the salary.

For the possible fourth year extension contract the salary will be defined based on the demands level table for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities (approximately 3100-3700€/month, depending on the performance).

The University of Helsinki provides its staff with occupational health and sports services as well as professional development opportunities ( ). The appointee is expected to reside in Finland while employed by the University of Helsinki. International staff is supported in relocating to Finland ( ).


The application must be submitted through the University of Helsinki electronic recruitment system by clicking on the link below. Employees of the University of Helsinki must submit their applications through the SAP Fiori portal.

Applicants are requested to enclose with their applications the following documents in English. Please add documents 1-4 as a single PDF file titled “lastname_firstname_application” and document 5 as a separate PDF file titled “lastname_firstname_writing_sample:

1. CV (max. 2 pages, including list of publications)

2. Cover letter (600–800 words), covering:

• Which qualifications make you suitable for the position

• How this PhD position aligns with your scholarly interests and further career plans within or outside academia

• Your motivation to participate in a doctoral network which includes international mobility and an internship period

3. Names and contact details (email address) of two academic referees

• You must have the permission of the academic referee to use their name and contact details. They may be asked to provide a reference letter at a later stage.

4. MA degree certificate (if available) and transcript of records

• If the degree is not yet obtained at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be obtained by time of appointment

5. Academic writing sample in English (ca. 7000 words)

The deadline for applications is 15th of March 2024. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview.


For any questions and further information, please contact Professor Mikko Tolonen, [email protected]. Further information about the recruitment process can be obtained from HR Specialist Reeta Korhonen, [email protected].

This PhD position is part of MECANO: Mechanics of Canon Formation and the Transmission of Knowledge from Greco-Roman Antiquity (MSCA Doctoral Network). MECANO aims to advance the understanding of the mechanics of canon formation and knowledge transmission of ancient Greek and Latin texts. It will look at (a) how texts, ideas or authors become canonical by being cited, translated, studied, imitated, excerpted, or compiled by later authors, and (b) how such implicit canons have changed across time and space by being received in different cultural, intellectual and linguistic environments. To study the dynamics of canonicity from a longitudinal perspective, MECANO will combine qualitative approaches to intellectual history and reception studies with applications of digital and computational methods on extensive text corpora.

MSCA Doctoral Networks are research and training programmes with the goal of training highly skilled doctoral candidates, stimulate their creativity, enhance their innovation capacities and boost their employability in the long-term. For MECANO, this means responding to the need for historically conscious and digitally skilled Humanities PhDs and training the PhD candidates to tackle the challenges of modern engagement with the topics of canonicity, diversity, and cultural heritage.

Being part of an MSCA Doctoral Network means taking part in networking activities and spending time abroad. Each PhD candidate will be co-supervised by two academics within the consortium; they will be based at one of the universities of MECANO and visit the university of their co-supervisor for a research stay, as well as have a shorter internship at an associated partner. They will be expected to take full part in the training programme, consisting of summer schools, workshops, a regular online seminar, and other activities.

MECANO is committed to creating an environment in which all talents can develop to their maximum potential, regardless of gender, age, cultural origin, nationality or disability. We particularly encourage candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups to apply.

MECANO is advertising positions for 10 candidates within its framework, who will be based at 5 participating universities. Applications for each position must be submitted separately. It is possible to apply for more than one position, in which case the applicant must send a separate email to [email protected], stating this and indicating their preference.

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