PhD position – The Slavonic Metaphrasis of Byzantine Orthodoxy – KU Leuven

You will work as a PhD student in an interdisciplinary team, contributing to the FWO WEAVE project “The Slavonic Metaphrasis of Byzantine Orthodoxy. A Digital Inventory of South Slavonic Translation Literature applied to Research on Translated Authority and Linked Texts”. At KU Leuven you will be part of the Research Group of Greek Studies (Faculty of Arts: Literary and Cultural Studies Research Unit). The project involves collaboration with the Institut für Slawistik of the University of Innsbruck.
Medieval Slavonic literature consists mostly of translations of Byzantine Greek works. It is a normative literature deeply imbued with a sense of tradition and religious and textual orthodoxy, but at the same time it is the product of the inherently transformative process of translation (metaphrasis). In this project you address these normative and transformative tendencies that have shaped the textual culture of the Slavonic Middle Ages. You study textual authority and the role of the Byzantine ‘florilegic habit’ in Greek-Slavonic translation literature and develop digital tools, drawing on the life’s work of one of the most renowned modern scholars of Slavonic literature. From 1975 until his death, Francis Thomson (1935-2021) prepared a catalogue of Greek-Slavonic translation literature: his work resulted in an unpublished Cartotheca of more than 100,000 handwritten index cards, which constitutes an invaluable source of information for the project. The digitization of this Cartotheca is part of the project. This PhD position will focus on the investigation of text collections, the authority of tradition and conceptions of orthodoxy, with a case study that involves florilegia and question-and-answer literature. As a topic for that case study the principal investigators (PIs) propose the tradition, Greek context and transmission of the Slavonic ‘Sotêrios’, but well-argued alternatives that fit within the frame of the project can be considered. In your research and in the development of the digital card index, you collaborate intensively with the Leuven PIs and occasionally with Prof. Jürgen Fuchsbauer (Innsbruck).


The successful candidate:
– combines an MA in Classics (Greek) or Byzantine Studies with proficiency in Old Slavonic and/or an MA in Slavistics combined with proficiency in (Byzantine) Greek;
– has an interest in expanding their expertise to include digital approaches;
– has an excellent oral and written command of English or German;
– is willing and able to work both independently and as part of a broader research team;
– is expected to spend on average 80% of their time on their PhD research, and 20% on database development and academic and administrative services to the project and the research group;
– is expected to work in Leuven and is willing to work abroad in Innsbruck for 6 months.


The full-time position is normally for 4 years, contingent upon positive evaluation after the first year (= initial 1-year contract, extended by 3 years after positive evaluation). The starting date is September 2, 2024, or as soon as possible.
The successful candidate will:
– receive a generous scholarship;
– enjoy academic guidance by the PIs;
– be integrated into an attractive and diverse research environment, with people from various backgrounds, in different career stages and with different kinds of expertise;
– become part of an institute with a longstanding tradition of textual scholarship and research on the literature of the Christian East;
– benefit from project partnership with the Slavistics Department of the University of Innsbruck;
– have funding available for costs related to the research, e.g. to travel to conferences.


Please upload in the application tool:
(1) your CV, including student track record;
(2) a motivation letter;
(3) the names and contact details of two academic references;
(4) if already available, a specimen of academic writing (max. 15 pages).
For more information please contact Prof. Dr. Reinhart Ceulemans ( or Dr. Lara Sels (
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