PhD position 'Communicative anchoring in Roman comedy'

Faculty of Humanities – Amsterdam School of Historical Studies

Publication date
16 September 2017
Level of education
Master's degree
Salary indication
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month
Closing date
1 November 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. The Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH), one of the six research schools, currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the NWO-funded  Gravitaton Programme Anchoring Innovation, led by National Research School OIKOS.

Project description

In order to communicate new information, ideas or opinions successfully, a speaker or writer will have to anchor these ideas firmly to the common ground that is shared between him or her and the addressee. Cognitive linguists have recently used this insight to explain the use of particles, negations and pronouns (for references see Proceedings International Conference Anchoring in Antiquity, in articles by Kroon and by  Allan & van Gils). In the field of Latin and Greek Linguistics, progress has been made by connecting cognitive linguistic concepts of common ground management to narrative theories (e.g. Labov 1972) and by exploring historiographical discourse along these lines. An investigation of other and more prototypically ‘dialogic’ genres like speech, letters and drama is expected to generate new insights with regard to the cognitive-linguistic mechanisms of common ground management in Latin. The case of Plautine comedies is especially relevant because of the various communicative levels at which common ground management may play a role. 

The main questions of the PhD project are: (1) what textual strategies and linguistic devices play a role in common ground management in the dialogues of Plautus, as the closest counterparts to spontaneous Latin dialogue; (2) how does common ground management function in metatheatrical communication. This last question is expected to be relevant not only for determining the significance and complexity of communicative anchoring, but also for the more general discussion of explaining the success of Plautus’s innovative drama. The results, laid down in a number of publishable articles or a monograph, will show how linguistic anchoring mechanisms function in Latin dialogical texts and as such support the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS.

More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the OIKOS website including an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled 'Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda.

Tasks of the PhD candidate will include:

  • completion and defence of a PhD thesis within four years.
  • participation in meetings of the project research group(s).
  • presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences.
  • participation in the training program of the Graduate School / Research School.


The successful applicant must have:

  • a (R)MA or MPhil degree in Classics (held by time of appointment);
  • familiarity with both pragmatic linguistic and literary approaches to Latin Literature;
  • excellent research skills;
  • interest in interdisciplinary approaches;
  • a strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • excellent command of English.

Further information

Further information about this position may be obtained from:


The PhD candidate will be appointed for 38 hours per week (1.0 FTE) for a period of 48 months at the Department of Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies & Archeology of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. Initially a contract will be given for 12 months, with an extension for the following 36 months on the basis of a positive evaluation. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 April 2018. The gross monthly salary (on a full-time basis) will range from €2,222 during the first year to €2,840 during the fourth year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

In order to be considered, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • transcript of records;
  • research proposal of 1500 words. Excluded are the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • copy of relevant diploma.

Please submit your complete application no later than 1 November 2017 to dr Roald Dijkstra, the coordinator of the Anchoring-programme via

Only complete applications submitted as one PDF file to this email address will be considered.

Interviews will take place in the week of 4 December 2017. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held via Skype. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam