Home / News / St Leonard’s Interdisciplinary PhD Scholarship: The Politics of Literature (Social Anthropology & Modern Languages)


PhD Supervisors: Dr Adam Reed (Social Anthropology) & Dr Elodie Laügt (Modern Languages)

Funding status: PhD scholarship (3 years funding, full time, 100% UK/EU or Overseas fee waiver with maintenance stipend of approx.. £14,553/year (equivalent to a RCUK stipend); fourth years fees would also be paid if necessary, though no stipend for a fourth year.

Title: St Leonard’s Interdisciplinary PhD scholarship in Social Anthropology & Modern Languages with the theme of The Politics of Literature.

The start date is September 2018.

Deadline for application: Friday 16th March 2018.

The scholarship theme, entitled ‘The Politics of Literature’, offers an exciting and original opportunity for an outstanding graduate to develop an interdisciplinary PhD project between Social Anthropology and Modern Languages. Supervised jointly by Dr Adam Reed (Social Anthropology) and Dr Elodie Laügt (Modern Languages), the scholarship holder will participate in the conventional track for a PhD student in both Social Anthropology and in Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews. In considering the theme of The Politics of Literature, we invite applicants to propose a project combining an innovative critical analysis of literature with an anthropological fieldwork project that will locate the scholarship holder in a specific socio-cultural context where the politics of literature matters to people. Applicants should consider questions not just about language as medium of cultural exchange but also about the cultural acts of literary composition, the nature of reception and other social relationships drawn out and identified around the enactment of literature. How do the various ways of defining literature as ‘political’ function in relation to specific cultures in which texts sit? How do readers and other actors make sense of the gap that exists between the politics of the author and the politics of literature? These questions could be explored by examining a specific example of a contemporary literary culture for which the politics of the author have become identified as a problem, either because the politics makes popular readers feel uneasy or because the author has been publicly or critically identified as politically suspect. A typical example might be a literary society in support of a living or dead author with a biography attached to historical fascism, to slavery or colonialism; however, we welcome alternative approaches grounded in the choice of a particular fieldsite (applicants might consider, for instance, working not just with societies of readers or writers, but with publishers, critics, journalists or even campaigners or activists invested in the politics of literature). Since this is an experimental inter-disciplinary project, the PhD student will also be asked to overtly reflect upon the challenges and opportunities of combining methodologies from Social Anthropology and Modern Languages (such as conventional forms of critical analysis and literary theory with an ethnographic study and conventional kinds of anthropological questioning), and in particular to reflect on what each discipline may gain from adding a new repertoire of questions to its methodology.


The successful candidate will normally hold a first-class undergraduate degree and a merit at Masters degree level in either Social Anthropology or Modern Languages, or related fields (we will consider applicants with a wider background in English or Comparative Literature and in Cultural Studies, Cultural Geography or Sociology). Candidates should have strong communication and organizational skills with a passionate interest in carrying out ethnographic research on issues clearly identifiable as relating to the politics of literature. They should also be willing to participate in the wider activities of PhD and research life in Social Anthropology and Modern Languages at St Andrews. While it is not required that candidates have an existing background in both academic disciplines, they should be able to demonstrate a commitment to the scholarship theme and a willingness to learn from both disciplines.


Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact either Dr Adam Reed (ader@st-andrews.ac.uk) or Dr Elodie Laügt (el40@st-andrews.ac.uk) for further information about the interdisciplinary theme of The Politics of Literature in advance of submitting applications.

Applications should be sent to ader@st-andrews.ac.uk or el40@st-andrews.ac.uk before Friday 16th March 2018 with the message title ‘Interdisciplinary PhD Scholarship application: The Politics of Literature’. The following documents must be attached to the applications in three separate files:

1) A research proposal that explains how they would carry out the PhD project and address the theme of The Politics of Literature. The proposal will include information on the proposed location or site of fieldwork, on mixed-methodology strategies, possible theoretical developments for Social Anthropology and Modern Languages and relevant literature (maximum 3000 words).

2) A full curriculum vitae with detailed information on degree results and language skills [where relevant], with the names and contact details of two academic referees familiar with your work available to be contacted.

3) A writing sample (e.g. essay or MA dissertation chapter) showing the applicant’s ability to explore lines of questioning from Social Anthropology or Modern Languages and/or to address issues around the politics of literature.

Short-listed candidates will be expected to make a university PhD application (at https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/apply/postgraduate/research/) before being interviewed remotely via Skype at the beginning of April 2018 and results will be notified by mid-April.

Successful candidates will be expected to start in September 2018.