PhD Studentship: Photography by Train: New Leisure Experiences of Heritage in Britain, 1880s–1930s

The University of Westminster (a member of the technē consortium and the Science Museum Group (SMG) are delighted to announce a call for applicants for a fully funded collaborative doctorial studentship from September 2024, under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme funded by technē.

This PhD will be the first to investigate how the interaction of camera technologies and rail travel influenced people’s leisure practices and, consequently, their understanding and use of the British countryside and its heritage between 1880s and 1930s. It will do so by bringing the photography and transport collections of the SMG’s National Science and Media Museum in Bradford (NSMM) and National Railway Museum (NRM) in York into conversation with one other. While the research questions will be developed in consultation with the student, they will be expected to appraise the interaction of photography and railways in relation to these three complementary perspectives:

  • The broadening class and gender profile of those who combined photography and rail travel, seeking to understand what they expected of their leisure excursions and, consequently, how this shaped their interactions with the British countryside and its heritage;
  • The position of the railway companies, examining the infrastructure developed to cater for tourists-cum-camera, how this changed as their social makeup and demands diversified and, consequently, how this influenced local authorities’ and leisure providers’ management of natural and cultural sites;
  • The potential links between the development of photography and railways, and the traces these have left in the material record through the close analysis of museum collections.

The successful applicant will have the opportunity to be embedded with the SMG and access the same levels of training, support, and expertise as members of staff, thus developing core heritage skills alongside academic capabilities. The project will be supervised by Dr Sara Dominici (Senior Lecturer in Photography Studies), Professor Pippa Catterrall (Professor of History and Policy) and Dr Alison Hesse (Lecturer in Museums and Gallery Studies) at Westminster; and, at the SMG, by Dr Oliver Betts (Head of Research) at the NRM in York and Dr Ruth Quinn (Curator of Photography and Photography Technology) at the NSMM in Bradford.

Applications should include:

  • Personal Statement (max. 1,500 words) explaining why you are interested in researching this topic, including what you would bring to the project and how you think you would take it forward.
  • Your CV
  • A sample of academic writing (ideally this should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words but this is flexible, e.g., BA or MA Dissertation)
  • Passport
  • Qualification Transcript/Certificates

The deadline for applications is 5pm (GMT) on Friday 05th January 2024.

Interviews will be held week commencing Monday 22nd January 2024.

The chosen candidate will be invited to complete an application form with the proposed supervisors for technē funding in February 2024, and the studentship is subject to final approval by the Techne board in April 2024. The final decision on the allocation of studentships rests with the technē review panel.  Applicants must hold an offer with the University of Westminster before their application can be nominated to technē.

Full details here: 

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