PhD Position

Loci Communes as Anchoring Grounds

Home > Jobs > Loci Communes as Anchoring Grounds
Loci Communes as Anchoring Grounds


Radboud University Nijmegen
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

Suzanne van de Liefvoort
+31(0)24 3611276

Loci Communes as Anchoring Grounds


Prof. dr. Bé Breij (Radboud University); Prof. dr. Caroline Kroon (University of Amsterdam).

Job description

New ideas and inventions that affect social life cannot thrive unless they are somehow embedded in the society for which they are intended. Innovation will always be connected somehow—both in the ways it is communicated and perceived, and in terms of content—to what people know, believe, want, value, and can understand. This is true even of radical, path-breaking, ‘revolutionary’ ideas and insights. This phenomenon of ‘anchoring’ is central to the new research agenda of the Dutch classicists.

In Classical Antiquity, one way in which this ‘anchoring’ is realized is by couching new or controversial issues in loci communes (commonplaces, in the sense of certae rei amplificationes). In some cases these loci are true to form clichés, such as it being “better to suffer injustice than to commit it”. Other loci rather impress us as apparent truisms: “nobody kills his son because he hates him: even if he is detested, no young man is worth paying such a price”. In either case, validity or plausibility is derived from the way the locus is framed or phrased: e.g., impersonal verbs and indefinite pronouns are a giveaway.

The ways and methods by which loci communes are made and employed in theory and practice constitute important methodological tools for all classicists and are especially relevant for those who want to study the anchoring of innovative or disputable issues. Sources abound, including, for theory, rhetorical handbooks from Aristotle to Boethius, but also recent linguistic tools such as common ground theory; for practice, rhetorical exercises – both progymnasmata and declamations – and oratory are the most obvious research objects.

We welcome structured PhD proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) which aim for research that sheds more light on theory and/ or practice of loci communes and ideally connects the two.

Host institution

Radboud University, Faculty of Arts, Radboud Institute of History and Culture (RICH). For more information see here and here.

Terms and conditions

PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for September 1, 2021. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation. It is possible to extend the position over 5 years at 0,8 fte. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from € 2.395 to € 3.061 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Radboud University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Tasks of the PD will include:
  • Completion of a PhD thesis within four years (1,0 fte) or five years (0,8 fte);
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training program of the local Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Radboud Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment
  • A Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Classics, held by time of appointment, with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment;
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Excellent competence in ancient Greek and Latin, and English, as well as reading competence in French, German and Italian;
  • As an asset, affinity with philological / linguistic / rhetorical approaches;
  • Independent thinker, team player;
  • Grit.

The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries about the position can be addressed to prof. dr. Bé Breij, Do not hesitate to contact your prospective supervisor about the design of your research proposal. Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort,


In order to be admissible, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma or statement by PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring-program via before April 24, 2021. Interviews will take place in the week of May 24-28, 2021 and will probably be held online.