Apply for our fully-funded PhD: Telling Different Stories

Study at Bournemouth and MOLA from Autumn 2021 on innovations with publication, interpretation & archiving of linear archaeological infrastructural projects!

Screenshot of web advert for our Bournemouth Uni – MOLA PhD opportunity – deadline for applications 21 June 2021
https://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/study/courses/phd-studentship-telling-different-stories

I am incredibly excited to announce this fully-funded PhD opportunity (including living stipend), based between Bournemouth University and MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), focused on innovations with the publication, interpretation and archiving of major linear archaeological infrastructure projects.

Two absolute inspirations to me – Prof Mark Gillings and Prof Kate Welham – will be co-supervising this doctoral studentship alongside myself and my colleague Dr Sorina Spanou (MOLA’s Director of Infrastructure). And Bournemouth has agreed to wave international student fees, meaning that this opportunity is open to anyone! We are also able to consider candidates who come from different backgrounds – meaning that if you have a wealth of professional experience, but your previous educational background doesn’t exactly match the academic requirements, we encourage you to apply.

The project seeks to draw upon recent developments in archaeological theory and the digital humanities in order to engage in a more creative fashion with the vast quantities of archaeological data that are generated by the most ambitious of current commercial fieldwork projects; those focused upon large-scale linear infrastructure. The aim is to develop wholly new ways of approaching, interpreting, presenting and archiving the wealth of archaeological information generated by such projects, and through this, new interpretations of the past.

Specific aims of the PhD include:

  1. To challenge and unsettle existing commercial approaches to the post-excavation, publication and archiving of large-scale infrastructure projects by revealing, critically evaluating and challenging the core assumptions and frameworks that underpin them.
  2. To explore the ways in which new, and potentially radical, developments in archaeological theory, critical cartography and digital storytelling can be used to reveal different pathways into and through the datasets generated.
  3. To examine the ways in which emerging trends in archaeological theory and critical thought can be brought into productive dialogue with the realities and exigencies of large-scale commercial fieldwork, to the benefit of both.
  4. To develop new ways of engaging with the datasets yielded by large-scale infrastructural work; approaches that can help shape future post-excavation and publication practice as well as allow wholly new archaeological narratives and interpretations to emerge.

You can read a fuller project description on the Bournemouth website, and you can apply by clicking on the green ‘Apply now’ button at the top of the advert page and completing the online application form. Alongside covering tuition fees, the studentship includes an annual stipend of £15,450 to cover living costs.

The closing date for applications is 21 June 2021. Interviews will be held 8 July 2021.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself or any of our supervisory team if you have questions!

Can you help evaluate our multi-person VR experience?

Volunteers needed to assist with Virtual Reality case study for EMOTIVE Project…

EMOTIVE VR Experience
Partners on the EMOTIVE Project testing an early single-user version of the Çatalhöyük virtual reality experience. Photo by NOHO / Karolina Badzmierowska.

The EMOTIVE team, led by University of York MSc researcher Kristen O’Connor in collaboration with teams at INRIA in France, ATHENA in Greece, and CNR in Italy, has been developing a virtual reality (VR) experience of the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. We need your help!

While VR for heritage is a relatively young field, there are a number of common VR practices which we think detract from the overall user experience. For instance, heritage VR tends to place people alone in a visually-stunning but largely stale environment. These experiences do little to make archaeology and heritage more accessible to wider audiences, who perhaps want to do more than simply look. This is why we have designed a new take on heritage VR, focusing on a shared user experience in an environment of doing.

Our Çatalhöyük VR project is multi-player, allowing people who haven’t met before to explore and interact together at the virtual site. We have also used multiple stages of user feedback to inform the experience design. Currently in the last stage of development, we would like your help to provide input for the project’s final iteration. 

We are holding a Workshop at King’s Manor (Room K/G 60) on August 9, from 1pm, and we need a handful of volunteers. This workshop will involve a test between you and another volunteer, who will be joining the experience remotely from one of our partner sites abroad.

Volunteers should:

  • Be aged 14 and up.
  • Have used VR of any type before, at least once, and be comfortable using an HTC Vive (VR system).
  • Be comfortable testing a prototype VR experience which is still under development.
  • Be willing to meet new people, share something about yourself, and explore new concepts about archaeology together. Ideally, you are not employed in the heritage, archaeology, or museums sector.
  • Be willing to allow parts of your participation to be recorded, photographed, and observed. This information will be analysed to inform research on heritage VR, as well as to contribute to changes to the final release of the Çatalhöyük VR experience.

If you are interested to participate, or know of someone who might be, please can you contact the lead researcher on this project, Kristen O’Connor, by email (kristen.oconnor@york.ac.uk) before Tuesday, August 6.

Thank you!

New takes on the traditional guided tour: Can you help evaluate our York Minster prototype?

Seeking a handful of volunteers to test our new EMOTIVE facilitated tour of the York Minster…

York Minster evaluation - 31 May 2019
Can you join? Seeking volunteers to evaluate our facilitated ’emotive’ group tour of the York Minster on Friday 31 May 2019. (Photo by Katrina Gargett)

Our EMOTIVE team here in York (led by Katrina Gargett and supported by the incomparable Vivi Katifori and Vassilis Kourtis in Athens) has spent the past year conceiving of alternative visions for the typical guided tour of cultural sites. Guided tours are arguably one of the most ubiquitous offerings of the tourist industry. Many folks will have direct experience of being steered around sites in groups, sometimes paying attention to their guide’s spiel, and sometimes drifting off and losing touch with the expert narrative that is spoken at them.

While there are a growing number of alternatives to this traditional approach to guided tourism, it is surprising how rare experimentation with group tours seems to be. As Katrina’s research has shown, these tours offer unprecedented opportunities for cultural sites to directly communicate with people, to bring together strangers who might otherwise not have interacted, and to create constructive conversations and relationships between them.

Supported by the astonishing York Minster (one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in northern Europe), we have developed a new take on the guided tour, and we would like to ask for your help.

Specifically, we are conducting an evaluation of our ‘EMOTIVE tour’ at the Minster on Friday, 31 May, from 2.30pm. We’ve tested the tour with multiple groups off-site (in settings staged to simulate the Minster), and we’ve used these tests to improve the experience. Now we seek a small number of volunteers who are willing to do the tour inside the Minster itself and to provide constructive feedback on it.

Volunteers should be:

(1) 18 years or older and interested to participate in a research project focused on experimenting with guided tours, part of the wider European-funded EMOTIVE Project.

(2) willing to meet new people, share something about yourself, and explore ideas together about the Minster. Ideally, you are not employed in the heritage, museums, or tourism sector.

(3) open to discussing heartfelt topics including health, spirituality, love, wellbeing, justice, rights, and other human values and beliefs. You should be keen and ready to speak respectfully with others about these emotive topics.

(4) willing to read aloud, or to read aloud for others who might not feel confident in doing so, and comfortable reading at a basic-to-intermediate level (11-12 year old reading confidence).

(5) able to spare 3.5 hours of time on Friday 31 May, from 2.30-6pm. The first 1.5 hours will consist of the tour at York Minster, and then you will walk or taxi over from the Minster to nearby King’s Manor for a constructive discussion of your experiences. We will provide refreshments!

(6) willing to allow your tour of the experience to be audio-recorded and photographed, as well as your discussion session at King’s Manor after the tour. These records will then be analysed and used to improve the design and development of the next version of the tour. You can choose to anonymise your records so that you are not identifiable.

If you are interested to participate, or know of someone who might be, please can you contact me by email before Wednesday 29 May. 

Thank you for spreading the word and supporting our efforts to broaden the ways that we think about – and connect to – the past.