Doctoral Scholarships on the Qur’an in European Culture#

The Université de Nantes is recruiting doctoral candidates for work on the project “The European Qur’an: Islamic Scripture in European Culture and Religion (1150-1850)” (EuQu). There will be up to four positions available.

Project summary#

“The European Qur’an: Islamic Scripture in European Culture and Religion” (EuQu) is a six-year research project funded through a synergy grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Its four principal investigators (and host institutions) are Mercedes García-Arenal (Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, CSIC, Madrid, Spain), John Tolan (Université de Nantes), Jan Loop (University of Kent) and Roberto Tottoli (Università di Napoli l’Orientale).

The project studies the ways in which the Islamic Holy Book is embedded in the intellectual, religious and cultural history of Medieval and Early Modern Christians, European Jews, freethinkers, atheists and European Muslims. We will conduct research on how the Qur’an has been translated, interpreted, adapted and used in Christian Europe from the Middle Ages through to early modern history, in order to understand how the Holy Book has influenced both culture and religion in Europe. EuQu will look at the role of the Qur’an in interactions with Islam, in debates between Christians of different beliefs and in critiques of Christianity during the Enlightenment.

The six-year project will produce interdisciplinary research through scientific meetings across Europe, a GIS-database of Qur’an manuscripts, translations and other works in which the Qur'an is discussed, and through PhD theses and monographs. It will bring the fruits of this research to non-academic audiences though a creative multimedia exhibition on the place of the book in European cultural heritage. Candidates should consult the full description of the project, available at and


Candidates should have a recent master’s degree (or equivalent) in the humanities, with a specialisation related to the themes of EuQu. She or he should have a high level of competence in the necessary languages (in particular Arabic or Latin, depending on the thesis topic). Dissertations may be written in English, French, Spanish or Italian. Each student will be enrolled at the University of Nantes, with the possibility of co-enrolment in another university. In particular, one or more of the PhD students will be in co-supervision with colleagues from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona and from the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana, USA).

Possible dissertation topics#

Each candidate will propose an original dissertation topic related to the themes of EuQu. The thesis may be written in English, French or Spanish. Possible thesis topics include, for example, aspects of the history of anti-Quranic polemics in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, aspects of the study of the Qur’an or of its translation, or the use of the Qur’an in the context of Biblical studies.

Responsibilities of the researchers#

Each PhD student will be part of the EuQu international team of researchers.

In addition to researching and writing their dissertations, PhD students will also be expected to perform research tasks in connection with the subject of their dissertations. These tasks will include, for example:

  • Bibliographical research:
    • Identifying manuscripts and printed books of interest to the project
    • Identifying recent scholarship and contacting scholars
  • Database management:
    • Writing and editing entries (in English) on manuscripts and printed editions of the Qur’an, anti-Qur’an polemics, and other texts (in relation to each student’s dissertation topic)
    • Writing prosopographical entries on owners, editors and publishers of these manuscripts and books
    • Identifying specialists in the field and inviting them to contribute to the database
  • Participating in regular team meetings (including periodic seminars and workshops), in Nantes and at other EuQu partner institutions and in their organization

Scholarship conditions#

Each of the doctoral students will receive a four-year full scholarship. Starting dates will be hired on a one-year renewable contract (French CDD: contrat à durée déterminée), employed by the Université de Nantes, for a total maximum of four years of employment. The date of the beginning of the contract will be negotiated on hiring: it will be no earlier than September 1st 2019 and no later than April 1st 2020. The researcher will be expected to reside in Nantes for the period of employment and will be provided with office space at the University of Nantes’ Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH).

The researcher will travel frequently for conferences, workshops and research stays with partner institutions in Europe. Doctoral students whose theses are in co-direction or co-tutelle will be expected to spend time in the partner university.

The application should consist of the following documents (which may be provided in English, French, Spanish or Italian):

1) A 5-10 page thesis proposal (subject, research hypotheses, methodology, summary bibliography, etc.)

2) A detailed curriculum vitae of the applicant, with contact details (name, address, phone numbers, e-mail)

3) Copy of grade transcript (master’s degree)

4) Copy of master’s diploma

5) Title of master’s thesis and name of advisor

6) In the case of a proposed dual direction of the dissertation, the name and contact details of the proposed co-director

7) 2 letters of recommendation from professors who know the candidate’s work well (including a letter from the proposed co-director in the case of a proposed co-direction)

Application procedures #

All documents should be sent in PDF format to by April 1st, 2019.

Selected applicants will be interviewed 21-23 May 2019. The interviews will be conducted by EuQu’s four principal investigators. Applicants will be interviewed via videoconference. Those candidates who prefer to be interviewed in person may come to Madrid for interviews, but no travel expenses will be paid to interviewees. Fuller details about interviews will be sent to chosen candidates before May 1st.

Applicants will subsequently be informed of the results of their application by the end of May. Contact and information:

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