JOB: 2 PhD positions within the ERC Starting Grant Project “Narrating the Mesh.” (Ghent University; deadline: May 2))

Job description

We invite applications for two PhD positions within the ERC Starting Grant Project “Narrating the Mesh.” The envisioned start date for these positions is 1 October 2017, and the maximum duration 4 years. The positions include full social security coverage and a net salary of approximately 1,900€ per month.

Profile of the candidate

Project background The “mesh” is Timothy Morton’s metaphor for the interrelation between humans and a large gamut of “nonhuman” realities, from the bacteria in our guts to macro-entities such as climate change. “Narrating the Mesh” (NARMESH in short) is a multidisciplinary research project interrogating contemporary narrative and its potential for staging, challenging, and expanding the human imagination of the nonhuman. How can narrative, in both literary fiction and oral storytelling, capture the ways in which humans are dependent upon the climate or the geological history of our planet? How can we narrativize entities that elude the human scale? How can stories undercut anthropocentric ideologies and foster a sense of respectful coexistence with realities beyond the human? NARMESH addresses these questions by bringing together literary studies, narrative theory, and narrative approaches in the social sciences. The 1.1-million-euro project is funded by the European Research Council and based at Ghent University in Belgium, whose Literary Studies department hosts a wide range of innovative research projects, including two other ERC grants. The Principal Investigator is Marco Caracciolo (, who is Assistant Professor in English and Literary Theory at UGent. The team will include the PI, a post-doc, two PhD students, and two student assistants. Applicants are encouraged to visit for further details on the project, including the submitted proposal.

Job profile

The PhD students will work on contemporary (post-1990) fiction in English. They will focus on two narrative genres that foreground the interrelation between humans and nonhuman realities: catastrophic fiction (i.e., Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven) and so-called “lab” fiction exploring scientific themes, including but not limited to climate change (e.g., Ian McEwan’s Solar or Richard Powers’s The Echo Maker). The exact scope and outline of the dissertations is to be defined by the PhD students in collaboration with the PI. Because the project aims to cross-fertilize contemporary narrative theory and ecocriticism, a thorough knowledge of at least one of these fields is essential. An interest in mind-oriented approaches to fiction and its possible effects on readers is desirable.

Preliminary time line

− 2 May 2017: Application deadline

− 18 May: Shortlisting is complete, applicants are notified of the result

− Week of May 22: The interviews take place via video conferencing

About Ghent

University Ghent University is one of the foremost institutions of higher education in the Low Countries. Every day over 9,000 staff members and 41,000 students strive to realize its motto “Dare to Think.” Ghent University’s mission is to wed high-quality education with internationally renowned research and a pluralistic social responsibility. Ghent University conducts an equal opportunities policy and encourages everyone to apply. Ghent University also strives for a gender balance. Applications from female candidates are thus especially welcome.

How to apply

Applications should consist of the following materials:

- CV, with list of publications and contact details for at least two recommendation letters.

- Digital copies of university degrees.

- Cover letter of maximum 2,000 words, detailing (1) how the applicant’s expertise and past studies contribute to the overall goals of NARMESH; (2) which of the two genres (catastrophic or “lab” fiction) the applicant would foreground in their doctoral work; (3) what post-1990 novels they would include in the corpus; (4) and how they would explore these novels in light of the project’s theoretical framework. Please address each of these points in the cover letter. Please send these materials in a PDF file to, with the following subject line: “*Last name* Application PhD positions.”

Ghent University
After decades of uninterrupted growth, Ghent University is one of the leading institutions of higher education and research in the Low Countries with 36,000 students and more than 8,000 staff members.




Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 13:15


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ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.

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