Vacature FWO project “Renovating the church”

Binnen het FWO-project “Renovating the church” is een vacature beschikbaar voor een doctoraatsstudent, het jobaanbod is hieronder te vinden.

Doctoral fellow

Last application date: March 31, 2020 17:00

Department: LW03 – Department of History

Employment category: Doctoral fellow

Contract: Limited duration

Degree: Master’s degree in History or Art History

Occupancy rate: 100%

Vacancy Type: Research staff

Job description

One doctoral position (PhD studentship) is available starting 1 June 2020 (with the possibility of a delayed start until 30 December 2020) on an FWO Senior Research Project titled “Renovating the church: material culture, Habsburg ritual and early Counter-Reformation experiments in the Low Countries (c. 1535-1585)”.

In the sixteenth century, the Protestant Reformation seriously challenged Catholicism. According to the communis opinio, the Catholic Church only found an adequate answer towards the end of the century, when it launched a coordinated campaign that implemented the tenets of the Council of Trent (1545-63). In the historiography on the Low Countries, the Fall of Antwerp (1585) is usually designated as the starting point, which coincides with the political separation of the Habsburg Low Countries and the Dutch Republic. This project challenges this view by investigating Catholic experiments in countering the Reformation in the Low Countries in the transitional period from c. 1535 to c. 1585.

Supervised at the Ghent University by prof. dr. Anne-Laure Van Bruaene (History) and prof. dr. Koenraad Jonckheere (Art History), this interdisciplinary project will give centre stage to the church building, more particularly to the interiors of the cathedrals, collegiate churches and main parish churches of the larger cities. The aim is to learn and understand how Catholic elites (prince, courtiers, bishops, canons, churchwardens) invested in material culture through a broad range of artistic media. The project will pay special attention to the dynamic interplay between stylistic experiments and the ritual uses of objects during Habsburg ceremonies. Through this double focus on material culture and political ritual, the project intends not only to revise the chronology of the Counter-Reformation in the Low Countries, but also to develop new interdisciplinary methodologies for (art) historical research.

The project comprises of three work packages:

Work package 1 is the construction of a dataset of still extant objects in the principal churches of Belgium, the Netherlands and Northern France (more specifically, the territory of the historical Low Countries) in order to chart the religious art patronage between c. 1535 and c. 1585.

Work package 2 is an in-depth study of the church archives for three representative cases (Brussels, Ghent, Utrecht), in order to reconstruct in detail the investment in and attitudes towards religious material culture. The emphasis will lie on source types such as churchwarden accounts, separate accounts for building, renovation and restoration works, contracts, inventories, correspondence, memorials for rituals and feasts etc.

Work package 3 is an exploration of a range of archival, printed and published sources, in order to further contextualize the material gathered in work packages 1 and 2. The focus will be on the role of material culture in religious and political ritual (including iconoclasm).

For a full project description, contact prof. dr. Anne-Laure Van Bruaene.

Profile of the candidate

The successful candidate preferably has:

–     A master’s degree (in hand or in progress) in History or in Art History (for individuals whose master’s degree is in progress, the doctoral position may only be taken up if that degree is successfully completed before the start of the project).

–     Demonstrated interest in the cultural history of the late medieval or early modern Low Countries.

–     Demonstrated interest in visual sources.

–     Demonstrated experience with historical languages (Dutch, French, Latin).

–     Demonstrated experience with paleography.

–     Demonstrated capacity for creative and independent research.

–     Reading-knowledge of English and French and a willingness to acquire the necessary passive language skills to read publications in other European languages.

–     The ability and willingness to work as a member of an international and interdisciplinary research team at Ghent University.

–     The ability and willingness to develop a publication track record of high academic standards.

How to apply

Applications are to be sent as a pdf-file to prof.dr. Anne-Laure Van Bruaene ( and must include the following elements:

– Motivation letter.

– Curriculum Vitae, including an overview of language skills (active and passive); experience with paleography and historical sources; and PC-skills.

– A pdf-copy of the master dissertation or undergraduate dissertation (for those with a masters in progress).

– Certified copies of relevant diplomas.

– Contact details of two referees (name, institutional affiliation, and email address) and/or two letters of reference.

In the second stage of the application procedure, the selected candidates will be interviewed.