CDP Doctoral Studentship - National Maritime Museum and Cardiff University: 'Sailor Art: Maritime Making in the Long Nineteenth Century'

21 April 2017

The National Maritime Museum and Cardiff University are pleased to invite applications for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership studentship on the topic ’Sailor Art: Maritime Making in the Long Nineteenth Century'. The PhD will be supervised by Professor Holly Furneaux at Cardiff University and Sue Prichard, Curator of Decorative Arts at the National Maritime Museum (NMM) and will start in October 2017. We seek applications from outstanding postgraduate students for this collaborative doctoral award, which is equivalent in value to a standard AHRC doctoral studentship and lasts for three years with an option to apply for a further 6 months funded under the AHRC’s Student Development Fund (more details below).

This project will situate objects produced by sailors at the heart of current scholarly debates about gendered work and creativity, military masculinity, and citizenship. It will be the first consideration of NMM’s rich holdings of sailor craft, including boxes and other small ornaments decorated with nautical motifs, marquetry made by ship’s carpenters, strawwork, carvings on coconut shells, scrimshaw, bonework made by late 18th/early 19th century French Prisoners of War, woolwork pictures and ropework. Work produced by Navy personnel will be compared with that of civilian sailors, and contextualised alongside soldier making, to explore servicemen’s distinctive skills, creativity and experience in the context of shifting attitudes to masculinity, empire and patriotism through the long nineteenth century. This interdisciplinary PhD is informed by the supervisors’ specialisms in decorative arts, curating, military and cultural history, and masculinity studies to offer a new approach to this unique body of creative work. The appointed student will have the opportunity to enhance the Museum’s cataloguing and interpretation of these objects and to contribute to museum programming, such as public talks, educational outreach and, potentially, an exhibition co-curated with the projects’ supervisors.

The research will draw out the previously hidden histories of military making, challenging assumptions about gendered work and crafting, and uncovering the personal and political significance of previously under-explored and diverse NMM collection items. While the appointed student will shape their own research pathways in line with their interests and expertise, we envisage that the following research questions will be at the heart of the project:

How, why and for whom did sailors produce art?

How does this work challenge preconceptions of gendered labour and what does it tell us about the history of masculinity, art and craft?

What kinds of narratives have been passed on with these objects? How have they been kept, collected and curated?

What do these objects contribute to discussions about military experience and skills, and to reassessments of the relationship between military and civilian spheres? How might such works intervene in debates about the incommunicability of combatant experience?

What is distinctive about art produced by sailors, and by soldiers, and by Prisoners of War, and what are the differences - material, practical, political, personal? How does sailor art reflect distinctive experiences of life on ship, port and at sea? How do objects produced by sailors and soldiers speak to wider shifting attitudes about the navy and army?

What are the key developments in the making of military art from Waterloo to WW1? How does this history relate to broader military and art histories? And how do these historical objects relate to the work being made now by military personnel?

Studentship information:

The standard tuition fees and stipend (maintenance grant) will be paid by the AHRC to the award holder subject to the eligibility criteria outlined by them. The AHRC stipend for 2017/18 is £14553 (full-time, pro rata for part-time) plus an additional stipend payment of £550 for Collaborative Doctoral Students (TBC). The funding is for 3 years (full time( and there is an opportunity to apply for an additional six months of funding from the AHRC’s Student Development Fund, which can (subject to agreement) be used to support appropriate training or a placement based on the student’s individual training needs. The National Maritime Museum will also provide up to £1,000 per year for three years (subject to agreement) to support the student’s research-related expenses such as travel costs.

Candidates should have:

A First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree in an appropriate discipline.

A masters degree in an appropriate discipline, although applicants who do not hold a masters degree will be considered if they can demonstrate sustained and relevant experience and meet the criteria outlined in the AHRC guidelines;

Candidates must meet the AHRC's academic criteria and due to funding regulations, must be either a UK national, or be a non-UK national who satisfies AHRC eligibility criteria. Applicants are advised to consult the 'Guide for Applicants for Postgraduate Awards in the Arts and Humanities: The Doctoral Awards Scheme' on the AHRC website, or to contact the AHRC directly (tel. +44[0]117 987 6500) to establish whether or not they meet these requirements.

To apply please send the following by email as a single document (Word or PDF) to: :

  • A cover letter.
  • A current CV, including your  academic qualifications to date and anticipated results if you are still studying.
  • Two letters of academic reference to be included with the rest of your application.

The deadline for applications is 17.00 on Friday 5 May. Shortlisted applicants will be asked to supply a writing sample on a related topic. Interviews will likely be held at NMM on 3 July.

 For further information please contact: Professor Holly Furneaux,, or Sue Prichard,   

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