PhD fellowship as part of research project “The Aesthetics of Bio-Machines and the Question of the Life”

University of Southern Denmark
October 23, 2023
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PhD fellowship as part of research project “The Aesthetics of Bio-Machines

and the Question of the Life”

PhD fellowship as part of research project “The Aesthetics of Bio-Machines

and the Question of the Life”

PhD fellowship as part of research project “The Aesthetics of Bio-Machines and the Question of the Life” funded by the Velux Foundations Core Group Program

The Department of Language, Culture, History, and Communication at the University of Southern Denmark SDU (Odense, Denmark) is offering a fully funded 3-year PhD fellowship commencing February 1, 2024 (or as soon as possible thereafter)

We are looking for a candidate who is highly motivated to undertake doctoral research as part of a four-year collaborative research project funded by the Velux Foundations Core Group and headed by Professor Kathrin Maurer (SDU) and Associate Professor Kristin Veel (Copenhagen University).

Presentation of the host project “The Aesthetics of Bio-Machines and the Question of Life”: Today we are immersed in life-like digital technologies, such as virtual assistants, generative computer systems, and adaptive robots. While physicists, engineers, and biologists are speaking about a notion of “life 3.0,” which declares life status to self-learning artificial intelligence, our humanities-based core group will conceptualize life-simulating digital technologies as sensing bio-machines. We argue that their machinic life-like qualities should be understood through the ways in which they perform a techno-mimesis of the sensory capabilities of biological life. We investigate these “life-forms” from an aesthetic angle, focusing on understanding the sensory capabilities of these technologies and the way they are negotiated in literature, art and film in order to advance knowledge about what constitutes being alive.

Job description The work to be undertaken by the PhD candidate is designed to understand the ways how literary fiction negotiates imaginaries of intelligent and life- animating bio-machines (such as AI, chatbots, robots). How does literature (novels, poetry, fiction, drama) represent life with these new artificial smart machines and how does it address their potential life-status? While open to the candidates' proposal, we are specifically committed to questions how bio-machines configure our intimate life-worlds as affective and living companions. An emerging genre of fiction portrays humanoid robots as friends, partners, and lovers. By means of their advanced technical sensoria, these bio-machinic companions can express empathy, compassion, and ethical values about human-machine relationships. The PhD project investigates the literary representations of these new companions and evaluates how these technologies claim agency for being seen as alive. While the focus is mostly on contemporary fiction, we also welcome historical and cultural perspectives. The PhD project can also address questions about the production of literature and aesthetics generated by AI. The PhD thesis will be supervised by Professor Kathrin Maurer and is housed at the University of Southern Denmark. The thesis can take the form of a monograph, or it can be article based.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants:

  • The candidate must demonstrate strong analytical skills and be trained in literary analysis. The candidate should have knowledge about contemporary discussion of AI and aesthetics as well as post-human theories.
  • Due to the collaborative design of this research project must have excellent collaborative skills and be interested and committed to be part of an internationally oriented team.
  • Strong communication skills in English. Candidate should present all research in English. The PhD thesis has to be submitted in English.
  • Further information is available from the Head of Department Per Krogh Hansen [email protected] or Kathrin Maurer [email protected] (phone: 0045-60737208).

    Application, salary and conditions of employment etc. A PhD Fellowship is a three-year position. Employment ends automatically by the end of the period. The holder of the fellowship is not allowed to have other paid employment during the three-year period.

    The successful applicant will be employed in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and AC (the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations), Cirkulære om overenskomst for Akademikere i staten 2019 (the document only exists in Danish).

    To qualify for a PhD position, you must have completed a relevant master's degree with a good assessment by the application deadline.

    The application should include:

  • Special PhD-application form found here
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Detailed project description, no more than 5 pages
  • Examination certificates
  • A maximum of 2 of the most relevant publications. Please attach one pdf- file for each publication. For any publication with a co-author, a co- author statement must be submitted as part of the pdf-file
  • Application and all appendices must be in Danish, English or one of the Scandinavian languages. Only material in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and English will be assessed. Please always include a copy of original diploma/certificates.

    Please always include a copy of original diploma/certificates. We only accept files in pdf-format no more than 10 MB per file. In case you have more than one file per field you need to combine the pdf-files into a single file, as each field handles only one file. We do not accept zip-files, jpg or other image files. All pdf-files must be unlocked and allow binding and may not be password protected.

    Applications will be assessed by an assessment committee and the applicant will receive the part of the evaluation that concerns him/her. The assessment report will subsequently be forwarded to the Head of Department who will assemble an appointments committee. An interview may form part of the overall assessment of the applicants' qualifications. The committee may request additional information, and if so, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide the necessary material.

    If the application does not meet the requirements mentioned above, the Faculty of Humanities may reject your application without further notice. Applications received after the deadline will neither be considered nor evaluated.

    Shortlisting and tests may be used in the assessment process. Please note that only a shortlisted applicant will receive an assessment.

    Applications should be sent electronically via the link "apply online" and the Faculty expects applicants to read the information "How to apply" before applying.

    We recommend that as an international applicant you take the time to visit Working in Denmark where you will find information and facts about moving to, working and living in Denmark, as well as the International Staff Office at SDU.

    The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

    Further information about the PhD-program at the Faculty of Humanities can be found here.

    Campus: Odense

    Application deadline: 23/10/2023

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