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Two PhD Positions in Critical Humanities Approaches to Platform Society

Radboud University – Faculty of Arts

We are looking for

As a PhD candidate you will be responsible for one of the three subprojects within the ERC-funded project « Platform Discourses: A Critical Humanities Approach to the Texts, Images, and Moving Images of Tech Companies ». This project studies how companies like Google, Facebook, and Airbnb increasingly position their for-profit online platforms as neutral spaces for social exchange, while addressing their users as « digital citizens ». The project employs methods of literary analysis, visual analysis, and film studies to explore the visions of humanity that speak from tech company discourses, forming an integral part of these companies’ branding strategies (from advertising and corporate blogs to manifestos and user interfaces). The first subproject, on discourses of everyday life, is carried out by the Principal Investigator (Dr Niels Niessen). The two vacancies concern two other subprojects. The second subproject examines the topic of digital citizenship: How do tech companies intervene in debates on democracy and state structures? The third subproject explores the topic of climate crisis: What visions of humanity are ingrained in tech companies’ self-presentation as green?

Your findings will be presented in a successful PhD thesis, written under the supervision of Prof. Anneke Smelik (thesis supervisor) and Dr Niels Niessen. You will also seek to publish at least one article in an international scientific journal, along with conference papers. Additionally, you will be expected to participate in workshops at the Radboud Institute for Culture & History, including the monthly seminar of the newly formed Critical Humanities research group.

Please indicate in your motivation letter which subproject you are applying for (or both, if applicable) and how you relate to the topic(s). Please also describe briefly how your previous research experience (from your MA or Research MA programme) links up with this project. Finally, briefly indicate what you hope to achieve by pursuing a PhD.

We ask

  • A Master’s degree in Cultural Studies, Literary Studies, Visual Studies, Film and Media Studies, or in another relevant field.
  • Experience with textual, visual and/or film analysis.
  • Strong command of spoken and written English.
  • Knowledge of cultural studies and critical theory, theories of Internet capitalism, media theory, gender and sexuality studies, race studies, and/or ecocriticism.
  • Original thinker and writer.
  • Willingness to share ideas in workshop format and conferences.

We are

As a PhD candidate you will become part of the Department of Arts and Culture as well as the Radboud Institute for Culture & History, both embedded within the Faculty of Arts. At the Institute for Culture & History you will become part of the Critical Humanities research group. The faculty as a whole enrols some 2,400 students in three departments: the department of History, Art History and Classics, the department of Modern Languages and Cultures, and the department of Language and Communication. We want to be a diverse and inclusive organisation, which is why we endeavour to create a culturally diverse staff.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 22,000 students and 5,000 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent and collaboration. You have a part to play!