Wissenschaftliche Stellen

PhD position - Literary Knowledge (1890-1950): Popular Astronomy, KU Leuven


The MDRN research centre houses about 30 experts in the expanding field of modernism studies. It unites scholars from various languages and disciplines. The centre offers an exciting environment that allows young scholars to pursue their individual research goals, while at the same time offering the benefits of collaborative work. To learn more about working at MDRN as a young scholar, or about MDRN’s many other projects, people and activities, just visit our site (mentioned below). The centre is based at the Arts Faculty of the University of Leuven. Located in a historic city in the heart of Belgium, the university is 20 minutes from Brussels and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.

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“Popular Astronomy” is a PhD project that is part of the larger research programme, “Literary Knowledge,1890-1950: Modernisms and the Sciences in Europe”This programme is funded by the University of Leuven Research Council and is supervised by professors Sascha Bru, Elke D’hoker, Anke Gilleir, David Martens and Bart Van den Bossche. The programme seeks to better understand the epistemic function of Western European literature between 1890and 1950 by studying literature’s role within a larger economy of knowledge production during the period. More specifically, the programme investigates the ways in which literature related to knowledge stemming from the life sciences,physical sciences, social sciences and the humanities. A large-scale research initiative coherently framed and involving scientists from various disciplines,the programme houses six smaller-scale projects for PhD students on English,French, German, Italian and Dutch literature’s ties to fields as varied as archaeology, genetics and cosmology.

The PhD project, “Popular Astronomy”, wants to study the ways in which fiction published in selected periodicals in Germany and Britain dealt with knowledge stemming from astronomy and how in culture at large it helped shape and imagine the cosmos.Literature has a long established role in mediating astronomical knowledge and expanding the powers to imagine the cosmos. Fascination for astronomical phenomena also ran wide in the modernist period, as witnessed by EliasCanetti’s evocation of the appearance of Halley’s comet in 1910 in Die gerettete Zunge or Virginia Woolf’slyrical description of the 1927 solar eclipse in The Waves. Generally, astronomy and literature are brought in line by looking at science fiction, yet the types of fiction that mediated and disseminated astronomical knowledge in the modernist period were much more varied. This project aims to look in particular at the different kinds of fiction (adventure stories, experimental stories, children's stories, detective stories, science fiction, romance fiction, serialised novels, short story series, literary stories, etc. ) which were published in British and German magazines and newspapers and which communicated astronomical facts in diverse forms to an audience extremely interested in the new discoveries that had been made in the period. This magazine fiction thus participated in the general popularisation of astronomical knowledge through the periodical press, but also mediated this new knowledge in innovative, original and literary ways. Through a comparative analysis of German and British sources, the project will aim to map this literary output and the stylistic and narrative techniques used to present astronomical knowledge (and imaginaries) in literary ways.


  • You hold an MA in English (major in literature) and have a near-native or high level proficiency in German or hold an MA in German (major in literature) and have an near-native or high proficiency in English
  • You have a passion for literature and want to become an outstanding scholar
  • You are interested in European modernisms, and the ties between literature and science (understood in the broadest sense)
  • You are willing to communicate on your research at conferences, through publications and on social media
  • You are happy to work on campus at least four days a week
  • You are ready to work in team and to play an active role both within the research programme and the MDRN centre


We offer a two-year scholarship which can be renewed for one more year (possibly two). A budget for research-related travel will be available to you as well. 


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Elke D'hoker, tel.: +32 16 32 48 83, mail: elke.dhoker@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Anke Gilleir, tel.: +32 16 32 48 78, mail: anke.gilleir@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than July 13, 2020 via the online application tool

Quelle der Beschreibung: Information des Anbieters


Literatur und Naturwissenschaften, Literatur des 19. Jahrhunderts, Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts
Literatur und Wissen ; Astronomie




Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) / University of Leuven

Verknüpfte Ressourcen

Projekte und Forschung

Popular Astronomy


Datum der Veröffentlichung: 15.06.2020
Letzte Änderung: 15.06.2020