AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award Poetry and Science: The Case of Humphry Davy

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD award to study the manuscript

and published poetry of the chemist Humphry Davy, 1778–1829. This

collaborative award, to be supervised jointly by experts at the University of

Salford and the Royal Institution of Great Britain (www.rigb.org), will involve

the student spending one year based at the Royal Institution in London,

transcribing Davy’s poetry and participating in the institution’s public-facing


About the project:

In his 1817 poetry collection Sibylline Leaves, S. T. Coleridge wrote that Sir

Humphry Davy was ‘a man who would have established himself in the first rank

of England’s living poets, if the Genius of our country had not decreed that he

should rather be the first in the first rank of its philosophers and scientific

benefactors’. Today, few people know that Davy wrote poetry, though he

continued to do so throughout his life and left at least fifty poems in

manuscript form in his surviving notebooks and letters. One aim of this project

is to consider for the first time in a full-length study Davy’s entire poetic

oeuvre, assessing from a literary critical perspective its content and technical

form. It is hoped that the examination of Davy’s literary and scientific writings

will involve the reassessment of the term ‘Romantic’ as a cultural movement,

throw new light on literary circles and social networks in this pre-disciplinary

period, and consider how Davy’s scientific practice differed from that of his

contemporaries both in Britain and abroad, looking in particular at ways in

which his interest in poetry might account for these differences.

Studying at the University of Salford and the Royal Institution:

The successful student will be supervised by Professor Sharon Ruston (author

of Shelley and Vitality) and Professor Brian Maidment at the University of

Salford, and Professor Frank James (Head of Collections and Heritage, editor of

The Correspondence of Michael Faraday) at the Royal Institution. The

University of Salford has particular expertise in the interrelations between

poetry and science, supported by the Literature, Science and Culture research

cluster in the Centre for Literary Studies:


Award and Eligibility:

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award schemes include fees paid at home/EU rate

and an enhanced stipend/maintenance award for three years. Home/EU

students receive the AHRC maintenance stipend, which in 2008-2009 (full time

registration) was £12,940. Additional maintenance equivalent to £1k per year

is paid in in-kind benefits by the Royal Institution as the collaborating partner.

The award would commence on 1st October 2009.

The successful student must have completed, or be in the process

of completing a Masters course from a UK University, or recognised equivalent.

The student should have strong academic credentials, including an MA or MSc

in English, History, History of Science, or related area. Preference may be

given to applicants with a declared interest in heritage studies. The successful

candidate must also meet the eligibility criteria for the AHRC; the Guide to

Student Eligibility can be found at:


How to apply:

Application forms can be downloaded at:


research/applying/. Please use the section asking for your Research Proposal

to demonstrate your interest in the topic and suitability for the award.

Applications and a current CV should be sent to Mary Byrne, Postgraduate

Research Administrator, Research Institute for Social, Cultural and Policy

Research, University of Salford, Salford, M5 4WT. Please write ‘AHRC

Collaborative Doctoral Studentship’ on your envelope.

Closing date:

The closing date for applications is 26 June 2009.

Interviews for short-listed candidates are likely to be held in the week

commencing 13 July 2009. The successful candidate will be required to

complete the relevant part of the student nomination form for forwarding to

the AHRC by 20 July 2008. Nominations are subject to final approval by the


Further Information:

Enquiries should be made to Professor Sharon Ruston, [email protected]

or on 0161 295 5071.

The University of Salford and the Royal Institution of Great Britain are

committed to an inclusive approach to promoting equality and diversity. We

aim to have a more diverse workforce at all levels of the institution and

welcome applications from people from minority ethnic backgrounds and people

with disabilities.