Oxford DNB research bursaries in the humanities, 2018-19


Closing date for applications: Sunday, 1 July 2018


Applications are invited for two research bursaries to work on humanities research projects in the academic year 2018-19. We’re looking for scholarly, creative, and defined projects that will extend our understanding of the British past and culture using the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford DNB) and its biographical data.

  • one Oxford DNB History bursary is for a research project in the field of History, broadly defined.

  • one OCLW / ODNB bursary will be awarded in association with the Visiting Scholar Scheme at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW) at Wolfson College, Oxford, and is for a research project in the fields of English, Music, Art, or Philosophy.

The two bursaries are open to PhD students or post-holders at a Higher Education Institution in the UK or overseas; or an individual undertaking scholarly research in the humanities—for example, as an archivist, librarian, museum curator, or in a private capacity without such an affiliation.

This is the fourth year of the bursary scheme. Details of the previous research projects are available here.


About the Oxford DNB

The Oxford DNB is the national record of over 60,000 men and women who shaped British history and culture—in the British Isles and overseas—from the Roman period to the present day. The Oxford DNB is a research and publishing project of the University of Oxford’s History Faculty and Oxford University Press, with a staff of academic editors and publishers. The Oxford DNB’s General Editor is the historian, Professor Sir David Cannadine.


About the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW) was founded at Wolfson College in 2011, as a hub for scholars and practitioners who are interested in, working on, or researching, all forms of life-writing. We organize events (lectures, seminars, conferences, exhibitions) that stimulate thinking about life-writing and disseminate research into auto/biographical subjects and methodology. Through a programme of Visiting Scholarships, Doctoral Studentships and Research Fellowships, OCLW fosters sustained and thorough academic research into a wide variety of interpretations of the theme of life-writing.

The Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing is Professor Dame Hermione Lee, and its Associate Director is Professor Elleke Boehmer. The Centre’s activities are administered by Dr Kate Kennedy, who is the Weinrebe Research Fellow in Life-Writing.


Using the Oxford DNB for humanities research

The Oxford DNB is used both as a work of reference (distilling existing knowledge), and as a means to undertake new research in the humanities. Much of this research is taking place in University departments (especially of History and English), though there is scope for similar work in museums, galleries, archives, and research libraries. Common to this research is an appreciation that the Oxford DNB offers not just discrete biographical entries but also a potentially connectable, collective statement on those who shaped the national past. Viewed in this way, the Oxford DNB presents interesting opportunities to study aspects of British history and culture.

These may include:

  • professional and personal groupings
  • shared experiences and endeavours
  • intersections of biography and place; or the movement of individuals / networks over time
  • aspects of social change and mobility
  • the professional and personal impact of significant historical events, such as war
  • prosopographies of professions, organizations, movements, and social circles
  • connections between biography and artefacts in a museum or gallery collection
  • applications of the Oxford DNB for university teaching in the humanities

These projects employ several approaches:

  • analysis of multiple Oxford DNB biographies as texts
  • use of the Oxford DNB’s online search options which allow historical figures to be grouped by shared attributes
  • analysis of the rich biographical metadata that underpins these search options (in partnership with OUP)
  • social network analysis
  • mapping and visualization of biographical data
  • digital initiatives (e.g. apps) using Oxford DNB data


The ODNB / OCLW research bursaries, 2018-19

The two research bursaries will begin in September 2018 and run during the academic year 2018-19. In each case, the successful candidate will work on a defined research project that draws on an aspect of the Oxford DNB’s content, be this in the form of Dictionary entries, portrait images, links to archives, or other biographical metadata.

It is expected that successful applications will take the form either of a discrete piece of research or form part of a larger project in the humanities, such as a PhD dissertation, journal article, book, or teaching resource.

Each bursary will be for the sum of £750 which is intended to assist in undertaking the research project (for example, with travel / accommodation when visiting Oxford, or to libraries and archives). Bursary recipients will engage and work with academic editors at the Oxford DNB and / or literary scholars connected to the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. Successful applicants will also take part in the life of the Centre for Life-Writing, and contribute to the Visiting Scholar community there.

On completion of the bursary, holders will be required to write a case study of their work for publication on the Oxford DNB or OCLW website, as well as an article for the academic blog of Oxford University Press. The award is conditional on acceptance of these terms and conditions. It is also expected that research will lead to additional outputs: for example, a seminar or conference paper (in Oxford or elsewhere), journal article, online or visual presentation of research findings, or a teaching resource for an HEI.


How to apply: Oxford DNB History bursary

To apply for the Oxford DNB History bursary, please download the Oxford DNB History bursary application form. Applicants should send the completed form—in which they set out their proposed research project—along with a current CV, to anders.ingram@oup.com [marked ‘ODNB bursary application’] by Sunday 1 July 2018.

If you prefer to post your form, please send it to:

Dr Anders Ingram
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Oxford University Press
Great Clarendon Street
Oxford, OX2 6DP

Successful applicants will be informed by Friday 20 July 2018.

For any enquiries please contact the Oxford DNB's Research Editor, Dr Anders Ingram: anders.ingram@oup.com in the first instance.


How to apply: ODNB / OCLW bursary in English, Music, Art, or Philosophy

To apply for the ODNB / OCLW bursary, please visit the OCLW website and download the application form. Applicants should send their completed application—in which they set out their proposed research project—along with a current CV, to oclw@wolfson.ox.ac.uk [marked ‘ODNB / OCLW bursary application’] by Sunday 1 July 2018.

If you prefer to post your form, please send it to:

Dr Kate Kennedy-Allum
OCLW, Wolfson College
Linton Road
Oxford, OX2 6UD

Successful applicants will be informed by Friday 20 July 2018.

For any enquiries please email oclw@wolfson.ox.ac.uk in the first instance.