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“I am the sea”: water, emotion, and geography in early modern literature and culture

   Energy and Environment Institute

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  Dr Richard Meek, Dr A Capern, Dr Demian Whiting, Dr L Publicover  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD scholarship is offered by the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Centre for Water Cultures, an interdisciplinary research centre exploring humanity’s relationships with water in the green-blue regions of the world, past, present and future.

It pioneers a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary and transhistorical research area – the green-blue humanities – and equips a new generation of PhD students to take this agenda forward and transform our understanding of humanity's relationships with water.

For more information visit the University of Hull website. Or if you have a direct question about the project, please email [Email Address Removed] rather than contacting the supervisor directly. This is to support our inclusive recruitment practices (please see ‘How to apply’ on the University of Hull website for more information). Our Water Cultures Professional Services Team will liaise with Supervisors and ensure you receive responses to your queries.

This interdisciplinary scholarship brings together two vibrant scholarly fields: the history of emotions and the green-blue humanities. Earlier critical work on early modern emotions emphasised how the passions were understood via humoral theory as “liquid states” within the body. More recently, other scholars have emphasised the ways in which early modern writers drew upon concepts of seafaring and hydraulic engineering to describe bodies and identities – and have recognised the importance of the Thames as a geographical space that exists both inside and outside Shakespeare’s plays.

This scholarship will offer a doctoral scholar an exciting opportunity to build on these new forms of “watery knowledge” as a way of reconsidering the relationship between early modern emotions and water cultures. How does Robert Burton’s description of tempestuous humours that “vexeth our souls … as the sea waves” relate to his suggestion that individuals can be cured of bodily and mental infirmities “by reason of a sharp purifying air, which comes from the sea”? How did early modern writers manage and negotiate this relationship between literal and figurative understandings of the ocean? How did living alongside water in the period feed into or complicate medical and metaphorical understandings of water, emotions, and selfhood?


Watch this recording of our recent webinar, for more information about the funded projects available through the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures. You will be able to hear an introduction to the Centre, to the individual projects from the lead supervisors, as well as the Q&A.

Entry Requirements

You should have a good undergraduate degree (at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or international equivalent) in English, History or a related subject.

A Masters in a relevant subject is desirable, but not essential.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language competency. Information on the tests that we accept can be found on the University of Hull website.

How to apply

Applications are via the University of Hull online portal. Detailed instructions on how to apply are given on the University of Hull website. Please note, you must also download a Supplementary Application form, complete and submit it as part of the online application.


The Centre for Water Cultures welcomes applications from international candidates.

While the Leverhulme Trust funds fees at the UK rate, we are able to offer a limited number of international fee waivers to support EU and International applicants. These are likely to be attached to no more than 30% of our scholarships.

Applicants already holding a PhD (or equivalent qualification) will not typically be considered as eligible for a Centre for Water Cultures scholarship. Applicants in this position wishing to apply must make a compelling case for their motivations in their completed supplementary application form.

Funding Notes

Doctoral scholars appointed to interdisciplinary projects within the Centre for Water Cultures will be supported by PhD scholarships, funded for 48 months. These cover fees at the UK rate, a maintenance grant of £17,668 per year (2022/23 rate), and a research and training support grant.
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