The British Library and the University of Leicester invite applications for a PhD studentship offered under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme, co-supervised by Joanna Story, professor of Early Medieval History at Leicester, and Dr Kathleen Doyle, Lead Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library. This studentship, funded at standard AHRC rates, begins on 1 October 2017 and is based at the British Library in London. 

Franco-Saxon Manuscripts in the ninth century

In the ninth century monasteries in the Pas de Calais, at Saint-Amand, Saint-Bertin, Corbie, and Saint-Riquier produced manuscripts that were characterised by the use of a highly distinctive style of ‘Franco-Saxon’ illumination. These monasteries were places of great wealth and patronage, and were ruled by abbots who had close links to the Carolingian court. Proximity to the Channel coast and to the trading emporium of Quentovic meant that there were also longstanding connections with Anglo-Saxon England. These links to places and people of power are manifest in the deluxe manuscripts that were produced in these monasteries in the ninth century, which combined the measured aesthetic of Carolingian epigraphic display scripts with an idiomatic use of Insular decoration.

This project offers opportunities for detailed historical research and direct engagement with manuscripts that reveal connections between England and France through texts, decoration, script and methods of manufacture. The project will focus on books in the British Library, and on codices that exemplify the Franco-Saxon style housed in London and elsewhere. The student will work with the supervisors to develop the project in ways that complement and extend their existing skills-set and interests.

The studentship arises from a major new initiative, funded by The Polonsky Foundation, to digitise 800 illuminated manuscripts relating to ‘England and France, 700–1200’ held in the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. This creates unique opportunities for the successful candidate to this studentship competition, via training and outreach opportunities, and by examining aspects of the art history, codicology, palaeography, and historical context of production and patronage of relevant manuscripts held in London and potentially also in Paris.

We seek a highly promising student who will relish the opportunity of combining academic research with the experience of working as part of a professional team of curators. This studentship will appeal to students of early medieval history, literature or language, book and art history, and material culture studies. Prior experience of research using manuscripts is an advantage, and the successful applicant will be able to demonstrate skills in relevant languages and palaeography. A commitment to communicating results to public audiences is a key asset in the context of the British Library’s digitisation and exhibition programmes.

Subject to AHRC eligibility criteria, the scholarship covers tuition fees and a grant towards living expenses. The Library provides up to £1,000 p/a for research-related costs, and facilitates access to Student Development Funding (equivalent to an additional 6 months) to allow time for further training and development opportunities. The student also benefits from staff-level access to the British Library’s collections, expertise and facilities.

Informal enquiries can be sent to Professor Story (js73@le.ac.uk) and further information is here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/history/postgraduate/collaborative-doctoral-award-opportunities.

Closing Date: Monday 10 April 2017 (midday, London time)

Interview Date: Friday 5 May 2017 at The British Library