KU Leuven is advertising a four-year PhD position at the Faculty of Arts as part of the FWO-funded project “Languages writing history: the impact of language studies beyond linguistics (1700-1860)”. The aim of this project is to study the history of the language sciences and the formation of linguistics as a discipline from a ‘post-disciplinary’ point of view: how the study of language evolved from an instrumental subject into an autonomous domain, how it affected other fields of study, and what was lost in the process of discipline formation. The selected candidate will pursue a research project that addresses these issues under the supervision of Dr Toon van Hal (Historical, Comparative, and Applied Linguistics) and Dr Floris Solleveld (Cultural History since 1750).
Before the study of language was institutionalized, and concentrated, in the discipline of linguistics in the 19th century, languages were central to understanding mankind and, therefore, to scholarship in the humanities. Once historical and linguistic knowledge came to be collected, systematized, categorized, codified, and transmitted in institutionalized disciplines, boundaries arose between the new disciplines. The FWO project “Languages writing History” focuses at the no man’s land between the boundaries of traditional disciplines, with a special focus on the interplay between history and linguistics. Apart from investigating how the transition from the instrumental status of language studies in the Early Modern period to its present autonomy was reflected in scholarly discourse, it also aims to assess the impact which the broadening of the scope of linguistics had on the study of the humanities in general, for instance in historical, religious, and ethnological scholarship.