Post-doc Vacancy as Part of the EOS-funded project “The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as Visual Mass Medium in Belgium (1830-1940)”

Université Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) is looking for one post-doc to work under the supervision of prof. Philippe Marion and prof. Sébastien Fevry on the EOS-funded project “The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as Visual Mass Medium in Belgium (1830-1940)” (B-Magic).

B-Magic is a four-year EOS-funded project which started in March 2018 and is led by prof. Kurt Vanhoutte (University of Antwerp). This project has set out to write the as yet unwritten history of the magic lantern as a mass medium in Belgium. The project’s results are an essential contribution to the study of the country’s cultural history as well as to international media historiography. B-Magic aims to rediscover the various functions of the lantern performance within the Belgian public sphere, in particular, its use in the transmission and negotiation of knowledge, norms and values by different societal groups. Scientists and entertainers, teachers and priests, political movements and organizations: they all used projected visual narratives to inform, entertain, educate and mobilize audiences of sometimes more than a thousand people per occasion. The lantern was the first visual mass medium to contest the printed word as a primary mode of information and instruction. All layers of society, both literate and illiterate, received visual information about nature, religion, science, new technologies and foreign countries through this fascinating “projection medium”. The B-Magic consortium researches the pivotal role of the magic lantern in Belgian society from the country’s independence (1830) up to 1940, when its use declined. To this end, it brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Performance Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, Urban History, History of Science and Knowledge, Communication Studies, Semiotics, and Narratology. B-Magic will produce the first comprehensive study of the role of the magic lantern as a mass medium in a country.

As part of this project, a two-year 75% part-time post-doc position (to start in January 2021), is offered at UCL. This new mandate is a continuation of a first post-doc assignment awarded from 2018 to 2020 and is in relation with the following subprojects:

Self-made Slides: Iconic Appropriation and Discursive Reframing

Two types of slide can be found in Belgian archives: next to commercially produced slides there are a large number of self-made slides which this subproject will study. Several collections (Holy Grave, Kadoc, Bijou, …) indicate that sets of slides preserved in their original order and used for lectures often mix photographically reproduced images from print media with handmade drawings, handwritten texts, diagrams and, sometimes, also (amateur) photographs. This Postdoc will analyse the iconographic characteristics of these slides. These possess a special aesthetic: traces in the image reveal the process of appropriation of single (printed) pictures that are not only taken out of their original context, but also reframed into a sequential order to support the logic of a lecture. The Postdoc will concentrate on this process of reframing, looking for strategies for constructing a visual discourse, and for iconographic patterns, serving the slides’ function (education, information, mobilization, indoctrination). The postdoc will provide a first systematic analysis of this practice and will develop an approach in relation with Media archeology and intermediality perspectives.

The narrative effects of the magic lantern

The narrative effects produced by the plates themselves, and their modes of arrangement via a medium whose projection system consists above all in a scrolling of images. This postdoc should also focus on the performative aspect of the magic lantern show where the slides are projected and narrated by a lanternist who accompanies these slides with verbal discourse. The researcher will also examine the intermedial relations that these slides have with other media or cultural series such as caricatures, images from Epinal or children’s press. It will also be necessary to consider the possible links with the narrativity of the painted/drawn “strips” created by Emile Reynaud for his praxinoscope or his optical theater. This subproject requires dynamic collaboration with the ongoing work of a doctoral student on the narrative dimensions of the magic lantern.

The qualifications required are:

-a PhD in theatre studies, film studies, art history, media studies or related areas.

-an excellent command of English, at least passive command of French and Dutch (the knowledge of additional languages such as German is considered an advantage);

-a first-rate track record and research experience;

-publications of articles in peer-reviewed international journals or monographs with recognized academic publishers;

-academic writing and presentation skills in English (the working language of the project);

-the ability to work both individually and as part of a team; to take charge of the organizational and budgetary aspects of conferences or workshops.

This post-doc position is part-time (75%) and is offered for a period of 24 months. The post-doc retained will be required to reside in Belgium for the whole period of his/her fellowship. She/he will be asked to contribute to the intellectual life of the B-Magic project and of UCL.

How to apply?

Applications should be made via pdf files and contain the following:

(1) a cover letter setting out the candidate’s qualifications and motivation for applying for the position offered (maximum 2 pages);

(2) a curriculum vitae (maximum 3 pages);

(3) a list of publications;

(4) two samples of published work (articles, chapters) in pdf (preferably in English or French);

(5) a transcript of grades and/or copy of the PhD certificate;

Applications should be made electronically and sent to the following addresses: and

The application deadline is 15 October 2020.

Interviews will be take place in November 2020.

Candidates selected for the interviews will be contacted by 31 October 2020, and asked to write a short research design on the proposed topic.

Employment should become effective from January 2020.

More information on the project is available at the project website: and

For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact or


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