AHRC doctoral studentship

AHRC Doctoral Studentship in Russian: the French Language in Russia

The Department of Russian advertises a three-year PhD studentship funded by the AHRC and attached to a multidisciplinary research project on ‘The History of the French Language in Russia’. The postgraduate will belong to a research team consisting of Professor Derek Offord (Principal Investigator) and two Postdoctoral Research Assistants (Dr Vladislav Rjéoutski and Dr Sarah Turner).

The studentship will commence on 1 October 2011 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The postgraduate will write a doctoral thesis on an aspect of the use of French in eighteenth- or nineteenth-century Russia. The precise focus of this thesis will be determined in consultation with the research team during the first six months of the postgraduate’s studentship, as (s)he explores the subject and as the larger project unfolds. However, it would be particularly beneficial for the project as a whole if the postgraduate were to focus on one of the following subjects, which fall in fields of linguistic, social, political, intellectual and cultural history which the team believe it will be important to consider:

  • the ways in which French was learnt in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian noble families (the role of French tutors and governesses, grammars and reading materials, the Grand Tour);
  • the effect of French ways of thinking about language (as exemplified in the Académie française) on Russian linguistic and cultural attitudes and institutions;
  • the pattern of French usage by the high Russian nobility (a case study could be written on this subject using the archives of a noble family such as the Vorontsovs);
  • the distribution and role of French communities in the Russian Empire;
  • the extent to which French was used in branches of the Russian administration dealing with domestic affairs, such as the Third Section, as well as for the conduct of foreign relations;
  • the role of men of French ethnic origin in the tsarist state;
  • debate in Russian literature and thought about the use of French in Russia;
  • the incidence and functions of French in classical Russian fiction. 

The approach taken by the postgraduate will mirror that taken by the Principal Investigator and the Postdoctoral Research Assistants. That is to say, (s)he should be alive to the benefits of interdisciplinarity and will absorb from the other members of the team the diverse theoretical and methodological approaches that they are applying to their material. 

The postgraduate will need a good reading knowledge of both Russian and French and is therefore likely to be qualified in Modern Languages, although candidates with a background in history or social sciences will also be considered. 

Supervision and role in the project

The postgraduate will be co-supervised by the Principal Investigator, Professor Derek Offord, and one of the Post-Doctoral Research Assistants on the project research team (Dr Vladislav Rjéoutski or Dr Sarah Turner), depending on the chosen area of specialisation (socio-historical and cultural matters, on the one hand, or linguistic matters, on the other). A member of the Department of French at Bristol may also serve as a secondary supervisor. Supervision will be fortnightly during term-time in Year 1 and monthly during Years 2 and 3.

The postgraduate will make a twelve-week research visit to Russia during Year 2 to collect material from archives and libraries and will attend the three-monthly meetings of the research team. (S)he will also participate in the planned events associated with the project, will be encouraged to present papers at them, and may participate in editorial work on the outputs arising from these events.

How to apply

See the guidance that can be accessed on the Graduate School website via the ‘How to apply’ bar on the left-hand side of the Homepage.

Note, though, that since the student awarded this studentship will be working within a subject area that has already been broadly defined as part of a larger project, candidates should use the research statement in their application to explain how their research experience and interests might connect with this larger project and how the project might in turn fit in with their longer-term research plans. They should also provide details of their academic record to date.

Please clearly signal your candidacy for this project studentship in your application.

Other departmental and School support

In-house tuition in Russian can be provided at an appropriate level, if needed, by the dedicated language-teaching staff of the Department of Russian in the School of Modern Languages.

Enquiries should be addressed to Derek.Offord@bristol.ac.uk (tel. 0117-928-7605) or to Hannah.Blackman@bristol.ac.uk (tel. 0117-331-7967).

The deadline for applications will be 5.00 pm on Friday 9 September 2011.