21 de junio de 2017

Job opportunity: 2-year post-doc, history of astronomy, Paris

Call for Applications: 2-year post-doctoral position in the history of Alfonsine astronomy in Europe

Application deadline: 14 September 2017
Start date: 1 January 2018


ALFA is an ERC funded project (2017-2022, 60 month, Consolidator grant 2016 agreement 723085) dedicated to the study of Alfonsine astronomy which flourished in Europe from the second half of the 13th to the mid-16th century.  Employing approaches from the history of astronomy, history of mathematics, and history of manuscript cultures to study astronomical tables, instruments, theoretical and mathematical texts, ALFA’s main objectives are to:
  • Retrace the development of the corpus of Alfonsine texts from its origin in the second half of the 13th century to the end of the 15th century by following, on the manuscript level, the milieus producing and using these codices;
  • Analyse Alfonsine astronomers’ practices, their relations to mathematics, to the natural world, to proofs and justification, and their intellectual and social contexts and audiences;
  • Build a meaningful narrative showing how astronomers in different milieus with diverse practices shaped, also from Arabic and Hebrew materials, an original scientific scene in Europe.

ALFA works in a deeply collaborative manner. Matthieu Husson (PI, CNRS- Observatoire de Paris), José Chabás (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) and Richard Kremer (Dartmouth College, USA) constitute its advisory board. Around them a local team of 3 post-docs, 3 PhD students and a digital humanities IT expert, based at the Paris Observatory, will work with a team of international scholars comprised of 10 specialists of the history of late medieval astronomy in Europe. Finally a team of external experts from neighbouring fields will consult with ALFA in order to enrich its methodological and theoretical dimensions and to help design the digital tools.

ALFA invites application for a 2-year post-doctoral position expected to start on January 1, 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter (CNRS-contract, salary according to experience following CNRS policy). This position will be hosted at the Observatoire de Paris in the history of astronomy team (dir. Michela Malpangotto) of the SYRTE Laboratory (UMR 8630).

The successful candidate will work as part of the local team and will spend most of his/her working time on his/her research project in the context of this collective, international project. He/she is expected to participate in the publications of the project and will be encouraged to take part in the conception of scientific events relevant to his/her research (workshops and seminars). He/she will have also dedicated research funds especially for travel to relevant European libraries. In line with ALFA’s (first) objective this post-doctoral research project should enhance our understanding of the formation of the corpus of Alfonsine texts. Different approaches are possible to achieve this aim, including the critical edition of key works of Alfonsine astronomy including astronomical tables or an in-depth study of a selected corpus of manuscripts linked to a specific production milieu, a pertinent collector, or the diffusion or teaching of specific Alfonsine works. These studies should be connected to more general questions in the history of astronomy (technical contents of texts and the elements described in them, establishment and connection of different milieus fostering Alfonsine astronomy, specificity and overlap of these milieus in term of manuscript and astronomical practices). Complementary approaches may be considered, such as the history of manuscript cultures (typology of astronomical multiple-text manuscripts, visual organisation of codices, manuscripts as performative objects).

To qualify for the position, candidates are required to have completed their PhD in either history of sciences, medieval history or scientific disciplines such as astronomy and exact sciences. Acquired competences in Latin philology, codicology, palaeography, history of astronomy and history of mathematics will be appreciated. The will to work with and contribute to the development of digital humanities tools will be a positive element. A good control of spoken and written English is also important in order to be able to interact fruitfully with the international team of the project.


Applications should be sent no later than September 14, 2017 to Matthieu Husson (matthieu.husson@obspm.fr). They shall include: a short CV (2 p. max), contact information for two possible external referees (name, institution, email contact), a short research proposal (3-4 p. max), a written sample of academic work (e.g. thesis and/or a recent paper).

Review of applications will start on September 15, 2017 and the result will be published on October 16, 2017.