IES Offering Two PhD Studentships for CULTIVATE MSS Project

Wednesday 25 September 2019

The Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London invites applications for two fully-funded doctoral studentships (fees + living allowance) to begin in January 2020, supervised by Dr Laura Cleaver as part of the ERC-funded CULTIVATE MSS project.

The Studentships

The CULTIVATE MSS project (2019-24) analyses the significance of the trade in medieval manuscripts for the development of ideas about the nature and value of European culture between 1900 and 1945. It examines the roles of collectors, scholars and dealers in the formation of collections of medieval manuscripts, and the impact of these people on the development of scholarship.

Studentship 1: Women and the Manuscript Trade in Britain and the USA, c. 1900-1945

Within the framework of the overall project, this PhD researcher will study the roles of women in the book trade in Britain and the USA (as collectors, librarians, and booksellers). Through an analysis of published and unpublished sources, the research will examine the hypothesis that women’s roles in the manuscript trade have been undervalued. It will study well-known and lesser-known women and contrast their activities with those of their male contemporaries. Subjects studied may include, but are not limited to: Belle Greene, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Edith Beatty, Elizabeth Thompson, and the Kingsford sisters.

Research questions may include:

  • In what ways were women’s opportunities and experiences (as collectors, librarians or dealers) shaped by social structures within and beyond the manuscript trade?
  • How have women been presented in the literature on the book trade?
  • How important was gender in the conduct of the trade in medieval manuscripts?

Studentship 2: The Role of Clubs and Societies in the Formation of Medieval Manuscript Collections

Within the framework of the overall project, this PhD researcher will study the impact of clubs and societies on the development of collections of medieval manuscripts and the transmission of knowledge about them. Through an analysis of published and unpublished sources the research will address the role of clubs and societies in creating and maintaining social networks, and the impact of these on the acquisition of manuscripts and the creation of scholarship about them. Subjects studied may include, but are not limited to: The Roxburghe Club, The Grolier Club, the Burlington Fine Arts Club, and the Red Cross.

Research questions may include:

  • To what extent did clubs and societies shape a community of manuscript collectors?
  • Did clubs and societies help codify values projected onto medieval manuscripts?
  • How did the composition, aims and activities of groups of manuscript collectors change in the period c. 1900-1945?

The studentships will begin in January 2020 and will last for up to 48 months.

The studentships will cover full tuition fees for 36 months plus a writing-up fee for 12 months at the UK/EU rate. In addition the studentships will provide a living allowance. For the 19/20 academic year, the living allowance is £17,009. The students will also have access to additional funding for travel for research and conference participation.

Please note that candidates not eligible for UK/EU fees may apply, but will have to pay the difference between home and overseas fees.


Applicants should have a good Master’s degree in a relevant field of study, such as twentieth-century history or literary studies, book history, or medieval studies. All applicants should also have at least an Upper Second-class undergraduate degree (or non-UK equivalent: for a guide see

Applicants whose native language is not English must be able to satisfy the English language entry requirements of the University of London. For further guidance see

How to apply

The deadline for applications is Tuesday 22 October 2019. Please submit to Helen Bhandari, Manager of the Institute of English Studies (

  • A covering letter (maximum two pages) outlining your suitability for the studentship (candidates must specify which studentship they are applying for)
  • A CV (maximum two pages)
  • Two references sent by email directly from the referee’s email account
  • A sample of academic writing, around 2,000-3,000 words

Your application will be acknowledged upon receipt. If you would like to discuss the studentship informally, or have any questions about the application process, please contact Dr Laura Cleaver (

Shortlisted candidates will be asked to attend an interview and give a short presentation at the Institute of English Studies. The date of interviews will be Monday 4 November 2019. The selected candidate will then need to complete a formal application to the School of Advanced Study, University of London; the application must be submitted by the deadline of 7 November 2019.

PDF versions of this announcement are available here (Women and the MSS Trade) and here (Role of Clubs and Societies).