About the Project
The key topoi and illustration styles of Scientific Romance from the late 19C onwards – future wars, alien invasion, space and time travel, colonialism, biological modification, climate change, secular apocalypse, lost world and hollow earth themes – are all reworked in the Science Fiction narratives of D.C. Thomson’s ‘Big Five’ boys comics – Adventure, Rover, Hotspur, Wizard and Skipper - from the inter-War period, as well as in rival ventures by Pearson’s and Heinemann – Scoops and Tales of Wonder. Both Pearson’s and Heinemann had been instrumental in publishing Scientific Romance stories in magazines and book form. Such illustrated formats are clearly influential on the initially text-heavy narratives of British comics, which gradually evolved into the image-driven strip sequence. Equally, in the Big Five, although SF themes were often introduced through hybridisation with adventure genres such as war, Western, school, sport and police stories, they similarly drew on the Scientific Romance and only more gradually on American influences. Hence such publications played a key part in shaping Britain’s ‘vernacular scientific imaginary’, projecting the hopes and anxieties of the time for several generations of young readers, before the UK developed its own dedicated SF periodicals aimed at older audiences in the post-War period. This trend took place during a tumultuous phase of transition in British and world history, from the Great Depression, the build up to the Second World War and into post-War imperial decline, decolonisation and social reconstruction. Analysing it would thus make an invaluable contribution to understanding a crucial period in cultural history as inflected through one of Britain’s most widely read and influential media.
The project is based on (but by no means limited to) a number of key Dundee specialisms and resources. These include a supervisory team who are world-leading on the Scientific Romance and British Comics history (Dr Keith Williams and Professor Chris Murray), as well as the unique resources of the D.C. Thomson archives.
For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Keith Williams ([email protected])
For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact [email protected]
Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.
English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 5.5 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s English language requirements are available online: http://www.dundee.ac.uk/guides/english-language-requirements.
Step 1: Email Dr Keith Williams ([email protected]) to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).
Step 2: After discussion with Dr Williams, formal applications can be made via UCAS Postgraduate. When applying, please follow the instructions below:
Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in English: https://digital.ucas.com/coursedisplay/courses/501eb668-da7a-a068-acc8-d0dd6017d212. Select the start date and study mode (full-time/part-time) agreed with the lead supervisor.
In the ‘provider questions’ section of the application form:
- Write the project title and ‘FindAPhD.com’ in the ‘if your application is in response to an advertisement’ box;
- Write the lead supervisor’s name and give brief details of your previous contact with them in the ‘previous contact with the University of Dundee’ box.
In the ‘personal statement’ section of the application form, outline your suitability for the project selected.
In addition to self-funding, UK and EU candidates would be encouraged to apply to the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (fees only for EU).
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