STIP Sep 25, 2013

PhD Sublime in Seventeenth-Century French Architecture (Leiden)

Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society
Application deadline: Nov 10, 2013

Stijn Bussels

PhD Position in Art and Architectural History (1,0 fte)
Vacancy number: 13-277

The Faculty of Humanities hosts a wealth of expertise in fields
including philosophy, history, art history, literature, linguistics, and
area studies, covering practically the entire world. The Leiden
University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of seven
research institutes within the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS focuses on
the study of art, literature and culture through various media. The PhD
student will work within a research programme funded by the European
Research Council (ERC Starting Grant), entitled: Elevated Minds. The
Sublime in the Public Arts in Seventeenth-Century Paris and Amsterdam
supervised by Dr. Stijn Bussels (Art and Architectural History, LUCAS).

Description of the Phd project
Contrary to widely-held assumptions, the revival of the sublime did not
begin with the adaptation published by Boileau in 1674; it was not
connected solely with the early Greek editions that began to appear from
1554; nor was its impact limited to rhetoric and literature. Manuscript
copies circulated in Quattrocento Italy and from there spread to France
and the Low Countries. Many of these early versions were produced in
milieus distinguished by strong political influence combined with an
evident interest in the visual arts and the theatre such as the Farnese
and Barberini in Rome, or Mazarin's in Paris.

This project will identify and collect a series of relatively unknown
versions of the sublime in connection with the patronage and
appreciation of architecture and the arts. Among those already
identified are texts by Rapin, Bouhours, Saint-Évremond, and Pierre
Cureau de la Chambre's writings on Bernini of the 1680s. Of particular
importance is the manuscript French translation held in the Bibliothèque
Nationale in Paris, which was probably made in the entourage of, or
possible even by, Mazarin in the 1630s, together with a series of
state-of-the-art treatises on architecture, perspective and painting.

The reactions to Bernini's bust and equestrian statue of Louis XIV offer
a considerable range of reactions in which the sublime plays a role. The
sublime is conspicuous in the testimonies collected in the BNF
manuscript Colbert 37; in Pierre Cureau de la Chambre's biography of
Bernini; but also in François Lemée's Traité des statues, occasioned by
the erection of yet another statue of Louis XIV, this time in the Place
des Victoires to commemorate the peace of Nijmegen (1678-9). These
versions of the sublime are important because they argue that the
sublime is not restricted to literature, but can be found everywhere, in
particular in the lives and actions of great men and the works of art
they cause to be made, and both present Louis XIV as the supreme
embodiment, if not living image, of the true sublime.

In this project we will further extend our knowledge of the networks of
patrons, authors, artists, and viewers and their interest in the
sublime. Whereas previous studies of the role of the sublime in Louis
XIV's artistic policy concentrated on his aims and the artistic aspects,
we will reconstruct the chorus of contesting voices that works like the
Invalides or the Place Vendome caused, and thereby obtained a much more
detailed and historically informed view of the use and impact of the

Duties and responsibilities

The candidates are supposed to carry out the following tasks:
- writing a Ph.D. thesis;
- submitting research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic
- submitting research results for incorporation in a synthetic
publication to be written by the programme director;
- presenting papers at (international) conferences;
- some teaching in the second and third year of the appointment;
- organizing and participating in reading and discussions groups,
seminars and workshops within the ERC-starting-grant group.

- The applicant has a Master's or equivalent degree in Art and
Architectural History, and has obtained this degree no longer than five
years ago. The MA-thesis must be of high quality, with a grade of at
least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment;
- The applicant's MA thesis testifies to well-developed research skills,
including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research
questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear
and persuasive style of writing;
- The applicant's CV illustrates familiarity with and experience in
research into the study of the early modern architecture and/or art,
preferably with interests in seventeenth-century France;
- The applicant has an excellent command of French and English, in
reading, writing and speaking; and a reading and speaking competence in
- The applicant is able to work both independently and as part of a
- The applicant undertakes to finish the proposed Ph.D. research within
4 years;
- The Ph.D. research should result in a doctor's degree from the Faculty
of the Humanities of Leiden University under the primary supervision of
Prof. dr. Caroline van Eck.

What we offer
The successful applicant is initially appointed for a period of 12
months, with the preferred starting date of February 1st 2014. After
positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility and if progress is
satisfactory, the appointment will be extended by another 3 years. The
appointment must lead to the completion of a Ph.D. thesis. Appointment
will be under the terms of the Cao (collective labour agreement) of the
Dutch Universities.

The gross monthly salary is set on € 2.083,- in the first year up to €
2.664,- gross per month in year four. This is based upon a fulltime
employment and in conformity with current salary scales under the
collective employment agreement (Cao) for Dutch Universities.
An appointment with Leiden University includes a pension build-up and
facilitates other benefits such as an annual holiday premium of 8% and
an end-of-year premium of 8,3%. Candidates from outside the Netherlands
may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

For more information and the full project proposal, please contact Dr.
Stijn Bussels e-mail: For information about LUCAS

How to apply
Please submit your application letter (with the vacancy number) and
Curriculum vitae before 10 November, to
and You are also requested to ask two scholars
familiar with your work to send reference letters to the same addresses.
We may also contact these referees directly in case we need more

Please add to your application the following appendices: the MA thesis,
copy of relevant course assessments and the MA degree certificate, and
other relevant documentation such as certificates of relevant language

Note that the procedure may include skype interviews in addition to a
final interview in Leiden; interviews are scheduled to take place at the
beginning of December.

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