Vacancy: PhD position Beauty in Film Theory (University of Groningen)

PhD position Beauty in Film Theory (University of Groningen)

We are offering a 48-month PhD position (full time, 1.0 FTE) within the project ‘Cinematic Beauty: Exploring the Experience of a Major Aesthetic Phenomenon’, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in a five-year Open Competition M grant (Principal Investigator: Dr. Julian Hanich, University of Groningen). The appointed candidate will have an expertise in questions of (film) aesthetics and film and media theory.

The overall project (henceforth: CinematicBeauty) aims to shed light on the pleasurable affective response that audiences experience when they consider a film beautiful. Since the beginning of cinema, movie-goers have encountered beauty in film’s many forms and genres. But astonishingly, scholars of film have never studied cinematic beauty in a systematic way. In addition to the Principal Investigator and the PhD position advertised in this vacancy, the CinematicBeauty team also features a postdoc researcher with a background in phenomenological interview techniques (12 months, 2024). Thus, the PhD will play a major role in one of CinematicBeauty’s three sub-projects.

The PhD project itself aims to investigate the variegated role of beauty in film theory. For that, it will be useful to look for discourses on the experience of cinematic beauty and their role in the history of film theory. The PhD student is invited to follow the traces of what film scholars, critics, and filmmakers have said about cinematic beauty and the experiences it engenders. Here the project may also have to reckon with the displacement of the term “beauty” as much of the writing on the experience of cinematic beauty did not dare to speak its name but was couched in different terms. Moreover, the PhD project aims to explore what was experienced as beautiful and how this manifested itself in normative debates on what should be considered cinematic beauty. And last but not least, the PhD student may seek answers to the question why beauty has been neglected in critical writings on film since the 1930s: if one key appeal of the cinema has been its ability to foreground beauty in our world, why did beauty turn into the bad object of critical discourse?

This PhD project offers a unique opportunity to work in an international research environment as well as to acquire valuable teaching experience: The PhD student may teach up to 0.1 FTE on a yearly basis in the second, third and fourth year.

Tasks and responsibilities include:

  • carrying out the sub-project described above by writing a dissertation under the supervision of the Principal Investigator
  • contributing to the successful advancement of the CinematicBeauty project as a whole, and to the spirit of interdisciplinary exchange characterizing the project
  • presenting research results at workshops and conferences, and (potentially) publishing academic articles
  • engaging in public outreach and knowledge utilization activities related to the project
  • participating in regular meetings with the other project team members, and assisting the Principal Investigator in communication, organization and editing tasks (e.g. co-organizing a conference, co-editing an academic volume)
  • conducting a maximum of 0.3 fte teaching during the second, third and fourth year of their appointment (0.1 FTE yearly).

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 36,000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study- and career paths. The University of Groningen is an international centre of knowledge: It belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is allied with prestigious partner universities and networks worldwide.

The Faculty of Arts is a large, dynamic faculty in the heart of the city of Groningen. It has more than 5000 students and 700 staff members, who are working at the frontiers of knowledge every day. The Faculty offers a wide range of degree programmes: 15 Bachelor’s programmes and over 35 Master’s specialisations. Our research, which is internationally widely acclaimed, covers Archaeology, Cultural Studies, History, International Relations, Language and Literary Studies, Art History, Linguistics, and Media and Journalism Studies.

  • a (research) MA degree in Film Studies, Cinema Studies, Media Studies, Philosophical Aesthetics or another related discipline. Candidates who expect to obtain their degree before 1 January 2024 are also eligible, and may be offered a position conditional upon successful completion of the Master’s degree
  • a strong interest in questions of (film) aesthetics, film history as well as film and media theory
  • excellent research skills (as shown, for instance, by the candidate’s MA thesis or published articles)
  • excellent proficiencies in English (and preferably command over one or two other major languages)
  • a strong interest in collaborative research and interdisciplinary dialogue
  • enthusiasm for communicating academic research to non-academic audiences.

More information and application.