AHRC studentships – The Board of Longitude 1714-1828: science, innovation and empire in the Georgian world

Fully funded AHRC studentships 2010-13

Deadline: 2010-02-15

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science (HPS), University of Cambridge, invites applications for two AHRC Postgraduate Research Studentships to support three years of doctoral research at the University of Cambridge to start in October 2010. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Home/EU applicants only are eligible for this funding.

The doctoral research will form an integral part of a new AHRC award to the project “The Board of Longitude 1714-1828: science, innovation and empire in the Georgian world” (AH/H015914/1). This is a joint project of the HPS Department, University of Cambridge, and the National Maritime Museum (NMM), Greenwich, under the direction of Simon Schaffer (Professor of History of Science, Cambridge), Richard Dunn (Curator of History of Navigation, NMM) and Rebekah Higgitt (Curator for History of Science and Technology, NMM). The project also employs two postdoctoral researchers based in Cambridge, Alexi Baker and Nicky Reeves.

Project Description
The project will result in the first comprehensive history of the Board of Longitude, examining its changing role as an influential player in Georgian culture. Established under the 1714 Longitude Act, the Board operated until its abolition in the early nineteenth century with major effects on innovation, creativity and state and commercial patronage systems. The Board’s papers in Cambridge University Library offer rich but underused evidence of ingenuity and invention during the Industrial Revolution. They will be researched alongside the NMM’s internationally important collection of instruments and other material evidence of these activities. The project’s key research themes involve comparative study of this early instance of state intervention in science and technology, and of linkage with bodies such as the Admiralty and the influential trading corporations in the promotion of long-distance sea trials, of voyages in the Pacific and into the Arctic, and of astronomical and technological innovations. Principal outputs of the project include a co-authored history of the Board, as well as journal articles and edited collections of studies on these themes, alongside exhibitions and installations within the Museum.

Research studentships
The aim of the doctoral studentships is to examine the source material in ways that complement and enrich those of the other researchers, using approaches from other disciplines to understand the Board’s work as a case study. The Project is keen to encourage applicants from a range of historical disciplines, including economic, political, administrative and legal history, maritime and naval history, and the history of science and scientific instruments. We welcome doctoral studies that use economic history and the history of industrial production to illuminate the Board’s work and its relation with inventors, projectors and agents such as instrument-making firms, trading companies, and state institutions such as the Admiralty. We also welcome doctoral studies that examine the Board’s personnel, their networks and relations with institutions such as the new learned societies of the period of Reform and these workers’ programmes after the demise of the Board in 1828, including questions about the legacy of the Board’s instrument collection and its organizational career.

The successful candidates will be supervised by Simon Schaffer in HPS at the University of Cambridge. In addition to pursuing their own doctoral research, the holders of the award will form part of the seven-person research team and join in a range of activities to promote research on the study of the Board’s history. Candidates must normally have obtained at least a first class honours degree (or equivalent) from a recognised institution of higher education before 31 July 2010. Applicants should normally have or be studying for a master’s degree or similar postgraduate qualification. If the candidate does not have such experience of formal graduate study, they must demonstrate evidence of sustained experience beyond undergraduate degree level specifically relevant to the research topic that could be considered equivalent to master’s study. The studentship includes for three years the payment of academic fees and an AHRC standard maintenance stipend (currently £13,290 for full-time award holders in 2009/2010). Academic and residency eligibility for a full studentship award are strictly subject to the conditions imposed by the AHRC.

Application Procedure
Interested candidates are encouraged in the first instance to contact Simon Schaffer ([email protected]) for informal discussions about their suitability and research plans. They should do this by 1 February 2010. The successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the AHRC. 
The successful candidate will be required to make a separate application for admission to the University of Cambridge. Further information can be found on http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/studying/graduate
The deadline for applying to the University is 15 February 2010.

Simon Schaffer 
Department of HPS 
Free School Lane 
Cambridge CB2 3RH
Email: [email protected]