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Beautiful fragments project

The Museum of London and the University of East Anglia invite applications for a three-year, full-time Collaborative Doctoral Award as part of the Beautiful Fragments Project, beginning 1 October 2018.This PhD research will examine the role of the fragment in understanding the art and visual culture of the later Middle Ages (c.1000-1500), drawing principally on the Museum of London’s vast medieval collections of glass, ceramics, leather, and metalwork.

Advert Title:  AHRC/CHASE Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD studentship in collaboration with the University of East Anglia and the Museum of London – Beautiful Fragments Project

Qualification type: PhD
Location: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, UEA, Norwich, UK
Funding for: UK Students / EU Students
Funding amount: AHRC stipend: for academic year 2018-19 this will be £14,777
Hours: Full or Part Time
Closes: Monday 8 May 2018, 12 noon GMT

Is a broken artwork useless?
What can only a fragment of something tell us about the medieval past?

The Museum of London and the University of East Anglia invite applications for a three-year, full-time Collaborative Doctoral Award as part of the Beautiful Fragments Project, beginning 1 October 2018.

This PhD research will examine the role of the fragment in understanding the art and visual culture of the later Middle Ages (c.1000-1500), drawing principally on the Museum of London’s vast medieval collections of glass, ceramics, leather, and metalwork. These carefully crafted objects offer an encyclopaedic reservoir of medieval material culture, however their incomplete nature mean they have often been overlooked by art historians. The project will offer the award-holder the skills training, close research supervision, and privileged collections access needed to re-evaluate these fragmentary objects and their value to medieval art history, contributing to a greater understanding of the Museum’s medieval collections prior to their major redisplay in 2023.

The studentship

This CDA Award will support PhD research into the role played by fragmentary objects in understanding the art and visual culture of the later Middle Ages (c.1000-1500). Jointly supervised by specialists at both the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Museum of London (MoL), the research will focus on works in MoL’s medieval display collections and archaeological archive, which houses artefacts from over 8,500 sites investigated in London over the past century. These collections offer an encyclopaedic reservoir of medieval material culture, however their fragmentary nature means they have often been overlooked by art historians. This research will present a doctoral student with the opportunity to reconsider the value of such carefully crafted yet incomplete objects to medieval art history, shining a light on the vital information they have to offer about London in the later Middle Ages.

Throughout the first six months of the award—in consultation with their supervisors and on the basis of their own expertise, training, and interests—the student will determine the specific focus of their research along one of four rich material strands represented in MoL’s collections: 1) ceramics, including glazed and decorated earthenware jugs, bowls, cups, and tiles; 2) glass, including delicate blown vessels, stained panels, and beaded jewellery; 3) leather, including stitched and tooled clothing, shoes, straps, and other functional garb; and 4) metalwork, including fragmentary tools, specialist instruments, cutlery, and horse furniture. Focusing specifically on one of these four categories, the researcher’s work will not simply catalogue MoL’s collections; rather it will interrogate the ways in which these material remains speak to remarkable patterns of survival, exploring how fragmentary objects that ended their life in London might give voice to an otherwise lost world of late medieval artisans and users.

The three-year studentship will start on 1 October 2018 and will be based in the vibrant research community of the Department of Art History and World Art Studies at UEA. The successful candidate will also work directly with curators at the Museum of London, where they will receive curatorial training and be given privileged access to the museum’s collections for their research.

The project will offer the award-holder access to:

•        the complementary research cultures of a world-class museum and a world-leading university

•        close and careful research supervision by leading specialists in the field

•        training to develop a range of valuable research and curatorial skills

•        engagement work with the wider public, presenting their research to non-specialist audiences

The successful candidate will also contribute to the intellectual framing and practical organisation of a project conference to be held at UEA in 2021.

Supervision will be provided by Dr Jack Hartnell (UEA), Dr Glyn Davies (Head of the Curatorial Department, Museum of London), and Prof Sandy Heslop (UEA).

The CDA will cover University of East Anglia tuition fees and provide the standard AHRC maintenance award for three years. Additionally, the student will receive support from the AHRC for approved travel and expenses and will have access to further research-focused support through UEA’s Postgraduate Faculty Grant Scheme. At UEA they will have access to study space in the department’s offices in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, access to the university’s various libraries and research facilities, and will be welcomed as part of a highly active research community, including both faculty and PhD researchers in a number of related fields. At MoL the student will be provided with a museum pass—giving free admission to exhibitions at a number of major London museums, research and education events, and conferences—as well as access to the museum’s curatorial library.
 

The candidate:

Candidates must have:

  • A First Class or high Upper Second BA Hons degree in a relevant discipline, such as Art History, History, Medieval Studies, Cultural Studies, Archaeology
  • An MA with Distinction or Merit in a relevant discipline by 1 October 2018
  • Research experience in at least one of the following areas: art history, visual or material culture, medieval history, medieval archaeology, the history of London

Along with their application candidates should provide two separate statements:

  1. a statement outlining your academic qualifications, relevant research experience and expertise (including language skills), and motivation to pursue this Collaborative Doctoral Award (max 500 words)
  2. a provisional outline of a research topic within the thematic and chronological parameters given above, setting out your aims and objectives, key research questions, scholarly context, methods and sources (max 500 words)

Candidates must also arrange for two academic references to be submitted to the University of East Anglia by the deadline, one of which must be provided by a referee who has had recent, direct experience of your academic work.

How to apply

Applications for this studentship must be made via the CHASE application form.

Applicants must also apply for a place of study at the University of East Anglia

Terms and conditions

The studentship is subject to RCUK eligibility criteria, and will cover home or EU fees and stipend at RCUK rates for a maximum of three years full-time, or six years part-time study.

Informal Enquiries

Informal enquiries about this collaborative project can be sent to:

-      Dr Jack Hartnell (j.hartnell@uea.ac.uk)

-      Dr Glyn Davies (gdavies@museumoflondon.org.uk)

-      Prof Sandy Heslop (t.heslop@uea.ac.uk)

Closing Date:             Monday 8 May, 2018, 12:00 GMT
Interview Date:          Monday 14 May