Author:Dobrochna Futro

Vacancies: 3 PhD positions in the new Republic of Letters research project

Thanks to a Consolidator Grant awarded by the European Research Council to our COST Action member Dr Dirk van Miert for his ‘Sharing Knowledge in Learned and Literary Networks: the Republic of Letters as a pan-European Knowledge Society’ project, the Department of History and Art History of Utrecht University has vacancies for three salaried four-year PhD positions on networks in the Republic of Letters.  

A brief summary of the entire research project is available on the website of Utrecht University:

For the vacancies and more information, see the AcademicTransfer website:

–        PhD position ‘History of concepts: digital discourse analysis of the Republic of Letters, 1400-1800’

–        PhD position ‘Mining for learned identities in the Republic of Letters, 1400-1800’

–        PhD position ‘The structure of the networks of the Republic of Letters, 1400-1800’


The PhDs will start as of 1 January 2018. The deadline for application is 20 October 2017. Enquiries can be made to Dirk van Miert ( An extended research description is available upon request.

Early Stage Researcher (PhD and Postdoc) Funding Opportunity

Cost actionWe are pleased to announce a sixth call for applications for short term research visits (“Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)” relating to the EU COST Action IS 1310: Reassembling the Republic of Letters, 1500-1800.


This funding promotes international mobility between COST Countries participating in this Action, particularly for Early Stage Researchers.


Purpose of a STSM

STSM facilitates researchers from COST Countries participating in COST Action IS1310 to go to an institution or research centre in another participating COST Country to foster collaboration and to perform empirical research. Participation of “Early Stage Researchers” (ESR) in STSM is particularly encouraged. An applicant is considered as an “Early Stage Researcher” when the time that has elapsed between the date of the applicants PhD and the date of the applicant‘s first involvement in the COST Action IS1310 does not exceed 8 years. PhD students are also eligible to partake in STSMs. – The Action is also committed to the overall COST goals of gender balance and encourages applications from COST inclusiveness countries.


Specific information concerning STSM

An STSM can last between 5 days and 90 days (and up to 180 days if the applicant is an ESR – see definition of ESR above). The financial support provided is a contribution to the overall expenses incurred during the STSM and may not necessarily cover all of the associated outgoings. The following funding conditions apply and must be respected:

  1. Travel expenses cannot exceed EUR 500;
  2. For subsistence (accommodation and meals), the maximum allocation is EUR 160 per day;
  3. The maximum award per grantee is EUR 2500; aside from STSMs that last longer than 90 days; in this case a maximum of EUR 3500 can be granted;
  4. STSM activities must occur in their entirety within the dates specified in this call.


Financial support is limited to travel and subsistence expenses and is paid as a grant. For this call, the Management Committee of COST Action IS1310 has allocated a total budget of €15500, which can fund c. 6-8 STSMs. Although applicants are invited to request a specified amount and to justify their expenses, the amounts granted for each individual STSM will be determined during the evaluation process by the selection panel. The selection of applicants is based on the scientific scope of the STSM application, which must clearly meet the overall objectives of the Action. Most successful applications will engage directly with some aspect of the tasks and problems outlined in the agendas of the six Working Groups central to Action IS 1310, and should represent a meaningful contribution to the Action.


These agendas are summarized in a separate document available from the STSM Coordinator, and are outlined on the Action website at Applicants are requested to identify the precise, numbered agenda item(s) to which their proposal is aimed at, and to discuss them before the applications with the respective Working Group Leader, copying Chair and Vice-Chair of the Action in to this correspondence. In addition, the selection of this final set of STSMs will be informed by the need to fill gaps in the Action volume (available on the Slack Forum to Action members).


How to apply for an STSM:

Interested Researchers are advised to follow the directions provided below and submit their application and supporting documents to the STSM Coordinator Vanda Anastácio by the deadline of the 31/08/2017.  No extensions will be granted.



  1. All applicants must carefully read the funding rules detailed in section 6 of the COST Vademecum: COST Action -­‐ Short Term Scientific Mission (pages 35-36). This document is available at: .
  2. All applicants must register for an e-COST profile at -­‐ adding their bank account details to their profile.
  3. All applicants must obtain a letter of invitation from the host, AND a letter of support from their home institution confirming that they can undertake the STSM on the given dates prior to submitting an application.
  4. All applicants must complete, submit and download their STSM application online at:
  5. All applicants must send their submitted STSM application form and the relevant supporting documents to Vanda Anastácio for evaluation before the application submission deadline expires.


The list of supporting documents to be submitted for the evaluation are:

  • Letter of invitation to the applicant from a senior researcher affiliated to the Host institution
  • The submitted STSM application form (downloadable when the online application is submitted – see point 4 above)
  • A motivation letter including an overview of the proposed activities that will be performed which must contain a plan of work for the visit highlighting the proposed contribution to the scientific objectives of the respective COST Action (usually 2-4 pages)
  • A letter of support from the Home Institution;
  • A Full C.V. (including a list of academic publications – if applicable).
  1. The application will then be assessed by the Core Group of the Action IS1310 in terms of the contribution which it proposes make to the objectives outlined in the Action’s Memorandum of Understanding (downloadable at ) and the six Working Group agendas (at ).
  2. The applicant will be formally notified of the outcome of their STSM application by the STSM Coordinator, Prof. Vanda Anastácio soon after the 15/09/2017.
  3. Within 30 days from the end date of the STSM, the successful applicant must submit a scientific report to the Host institution and to the STSM Coordinator; the report has to be uploaded on the Action’s private forum and ideally on the frontend, too (the STSM abstract will be published on the website in any case). The applicant is also responsible for acquiring an official acceptance letter / E-mail confirmation of acceptance from a senior Researcher affiliated to the Host institution formally accepting the scientific report. This formal acceptance of the scientific report has to be sent to the Grant Holder and the STSM Coordinator for archiving purposes. Failure to submit the scientific report within 30 days from the end date of the STSM will effectively cancel the grant. (Please note that COST can request additional information to substantiate the information contained within the documents submitted by STSM applicants).


Deadline for applications to be submitted: 31/08/2017.


Notification of application outcome: soon after 15/09/2017


Period of STSMs: between 01/10/2017 and 31/03/2018.

Winners Of Round Four Of The T-AP Digging Into Data Challenge 2017

We would like to congratulate our three COST Action members: Eero Hyvönen (Aalto University), Bruno Emanuel da Graça Martins (Universidade de Lisboa), and Patricia Murrieta-Flores (University of Chester) for being awarded funding in the 2017 DiD funding scheme!


Map of Oaxtepec, Morelos from the Relaciones Geográficas (1580)


The Trans-Atlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities along with sixteen international research funders jointly awarded approximately (US) $9.2 million to international teams investigating how large-scale computational techniques may be applied to answering research questions in the humanities and social sciences. These teams will be pursuing research in numerous areas, including musicology, economics, linguistics, political science, and history.


Two of the fourteen winning projects are led by our COST Action members:


HJ-253524. Mapping Manuscript Migrations: digging into data for the history and provenance of pre-modern European manuscripts.
Abstract: An international collaboration mapping the movement of pre-modern European manuscripts. The project links disparate datasets from Europe and North America to provide a view of the history and provenance of these manuscripts. Funders: Finland (AKA); France (ANR); United Kingdom (AHRC/ESRC); United States (IMLS). Principal Investigators: Toby Burrows (University of Oxford); Eero Hyvönen (Aalto University); Lynn Ransom (University of Pennsylvania); Hanno Wijsman (Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes).


HJ-253525. Digging into Early Colonial Mexico.
Abstract: An innovative international collaboration to study Relaciones Geográficas, a 16th century compilation ordered by the Spanish crown that gathered vast amounts of information about the New World through multiple records, both in Spanish and indigenous languages. Using a Big-Data approach, this project applies novel computational methodologies to study this important source for the colonial history of America. Funders: Mexico (CONACYT); Portugal (FCT); United Kingdom (AHRC/ESRC). Principal Investigators: Diego Jiménez-Badillo (Museo del Templo Mayor, INAH); Bruno Emanuel da Graça Martins (Universidade de Lisboa); Patricia Murrieta-Flores (University of Chester).



Per Pippin Aspaas: Astronomia disciplina maxime oecumenica?


In the period 19 February – 2 March 2017, I stayed in Basel as a STSM grantee. My host was Dr. Fritz Nagel of the Bernoulli-Euler Zentrum, whose office is located at the Universitätsbibliothek Basel.


The main task of my stay was to go through the surviving correspondence of the Basel-born savant Johann III Bernoulli, who served as Astronomer Royal of Berlin during the 1760s, 1770s, and 1780s. In investigating his Nachlass, I was looking for correspondence dealing with astronomy, not just any kind of learned, or private, exchange of information. Thanks to generous guidance from Dr. Nagel and extraordinary services provided by the staff at the Sonderlesesaal, I managed to go through all letters that one could expect to deal with astronomy. Brief abstracts of a substantial number of letters were made on the spot, whereas others were photographed for further study at home.


The STSM grant enabled me to go through unique materials of this member of the Bernoulli family, whose correspondence has not been studied, nor edited except for very small fractions, until now. The expected outcome of the STSM is twofold. Firstly, a number of letters will soon be exported from my excel files and uploaded into EMLO. Secondly, an analytical article will be prepared by Thomas Wallnig and myself, exploring to what extent astronomers cross confessional boundaries in their scientific correspondence. Johann III Bernoulli will be one of several astronomers whose correspondence will be analyzed for our article.



Justine Walden: The Wealth of Early Modern Italian Letters

Italians wrote more letters than any other early modern group: against a backdrop of merchant letters from the 13th and 14th centuries and letters exchanged between humanists and literary figures in in the 15th, collections of printed vernacular letters poured from Venetian presses in the 16th.  A vast quantity of letters was exchanged between doctors, astronomers, physicists, literary figures and musicians in 16th-century Italy, and intersecting with this outflow were courtly, facetious, and scientific letters from academicians; circulars describing natural and ethnographic phenomena written by Jesuits; advisory letters written by traveling diplomats, and spiritual letters written by religious figures. Many of these letters were widely copied, circulated, published and republished. Yet records of early modern Italian correspondence and the letters themselves, however, can be difficult to locate, in part because the letters are dispersed across so many different repositories and in part because of the wide diversity of types of finding aids and inventories (e.g., .pdf, handwritten, typewritten, and online inventories and data sources).


An Early Modern Italian Letters Census


This short-term scientific mission (STSM) consisted of canvassing early modern Italian letters sources with an eye to the requirements of a more comprehensive census. The project consisted of forays into Italian archives and a residence in Oxford so as to understand EMLO data requirements. The project confronted challenges both technological and prosopographic. On the technical side, there were issues of undigitized catalogues and integrating diverse data sources and bibliographic formats. On the prosopographic, basic biographical metadata was collected for several hundred letter-writers to ascertain whether they fell within EMLO’s temporal remit. Other challenges included the problem of duplicate records, database organization, and questions of translation.



The STSM resulted in two projects: 1) a report to help future researchers find early modern Italian letters and 2) a database of Early Modern Italian Letters, or EMIL, which contains information on 128 letters repositories, metadata on 4,700 early modern Italian letters sources, and metadata on 2,700 individual letters. Database categories consist of the name of the letter-writer, their biographical metadata and profession, the name of the archive and shelfmark and a link to the source where possible, whether the source is in manuscript or print format, whether it is early modern or modern, whether it is in catalogue or item format, and where applicable, notes on the size of the letters collection or other factors.


Dirk van Miert receives 2 million euros for research into the Open Science ideals of early modern knowledge networks

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a Consolidator Grant of 2 million euros to one of our COST Action members, historian and Latinist Dr Dirk van Miert, to conduct research into the ideal of sharing knowledge within early modern scholarly networks in Europe.

The Consolidator Grant will allow Dirk van Miert to set up his own team of researchers and study the pre-history of Open Science during a five-year period (2017-2022).


Early Stage Researcher (PhD and Postdoc) Funding Opportunity

Cost actionWe are pleased to announce a fifth call for applications for short term research visits (“Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)” relating to the EU COST Action IS 1310: Reassembling the Republic of Letters, 1500-1800.


This funding promotes international mobility between COST Countries participating in this Action, particularly for Early Stage Researchers.


Most successful applications will contribute directly to fulfilling the agendas of one or more of the Action’s six Working Groups, each of which is described under its own heading on this site. A list of abstracts from previously funded STSMs may be reviewed on the COST Action’s website.


Interested researchers are advised to follow the directions provided below and submit their application and supporting documents to the STSM Coordinator Vanda Anastácio  by the deadline of 19 December 2016.


The proposals must cover activities taking place between 3 January 2017 and 31 March 2017. All STSM activities must be entirely completed within these dates. In addition, a written report on the activities carried out during the STSM is due within 30 days of the end of the research visit.


Purpose of a STSM

STSM are aimed at strengthening existing networks and fostering collaborations by allowing researchers to visit an institution in a participating COST country. A STSM should contribute to the specific research objectives of the COST Action, while at the same time learning new techniques or gain access to specific expertise, instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions.


In the specific case of COST Action “Reassembling the Republic of Letters”, this call explicitly addresses persons who deal with the digital processing of (early modern) learned correspondence, from different professional perspectives: librarians and archivists; scholars; IT specialists; digital humanities and media experts.  For detailed information on COST Action IS1310, please see the Memorandum of Understanding.


STSMs are especially (although not exclusively) targeted at persons at early stages of their professional career (defined as eight years since the award of the PhD or equivalent). We also particularly encourage the application of women, and/or persons from “inclusiveness countries” (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey).


Further information regarding the STSM programme and the eligibility criteria can be downloaded here. For full details on the COST STSM funding rules the COST Vademecum.



Deadline for applications to be submitted: 19 December 2016
Notification of application outcome: 23 December 2016
Period of STSM: between 03 January 2017 and 31 March 2017
All STSM activities must occur in their entirety within the period specified above.


Contact person for clarifications:
Prof. Vanda Anastácio (STSM Coordinator)
University of Lisbon
Faculdade de Letras
Alameda da Universidade
Lisboa 1600-214  Portugal

Rethinking the Republic of Letters – Annual Conference in Warsaw

The Annual Conference of the COST Action IS 1310 “Reassembling the Republic of Letters” took place at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 15 June 2016.

Having previously explored scholarly work from the perspective of shared technical standards, the Warsaw conference pursued the opposite path: digital functionality was discussed from the perspective of current scholarly strands about the Republic of Letters.READ MORE