[Corpora-List] PhD position in Classics & NLP, University of Groningen

Malvina Nissim m.nissim at rug.nl
Mon Mar 30 17:08:56 CEST 2020

Dear all,

I am pleased to announce the opening of an interdisciplinary PhD position at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Prospective starting date: September 1st, 2020.

The project is concerned with the application of NLP tools, and in particular word embeddings, to the analysis of Ancient Greek gods. A sketch is given below; applicants are expected to provide their own proposal where they suggest more in detail how they would approach this project (see Application Procedure below).

Should you need further information, please, feel free to get in touch with prospective supervisors: Dr. Saskia Peels, s.peels at rug.nl Prof. dr. Malvina Nissim, m.nissim at rug.nl

Best wishes, Malvina Nissim


*Understanding Ancient Greek gods through Natural Language Processing*

An accurate view of culture, mentalities and values in the Ancient Greek world hinges on the correct interpretation of key concepts in the Greek language. Here, many challenges remain. Scholars are faced with difficulties in understanding key-terms and how they potentially changed throughout history. What did a Greek speaker really mean by words like ‘justice’ or ‘courage’? Analyses done by classicists and ancient historians are invaluable, but also time-consuming, and outcomes may be biased by researchers’ previous knowledge.

Computational semantic tools, more precisely word embeddings, provide a powerful way of understanding the meaning of words, both in a synchronic and diachronic setting. This PhD-project will apply natural language processing tools to the study of Ancient Greek word usage. Ancient Greek provides a prime laboratory for such an investigation: nearly all available sources for this language have been very well digitized, the corpus is large, spans a wide diachronic period, and is enriched with layers of linguistic annotation to facilitate analysis.

Specifically, word embeddings will be used to help tackle a current major problem in the study of Ancient Greek religion: the ‘semantics’ of gods. Ancient Greek polytheism is difficult to grasp, despite much work in the field (cf. for good introductions: Parker 2005: 387-395, Parker 2011: 64-104). How did the Ancient Greeks understand their gods? The answers to this question are not static. Changing politics and increasing intercultural contacts went hand in hand with changing views of gods. The evolution of roles of gods is not a random process, but may be seen as cases of successfully anchored innovations.

New methods for studying Greek gods are a must. This PhD-project will use natural language processing (NLP) tools to better understand Greek gods synchronically and diachronically. It will focus on individual gods, through an analysis of their names, in larger datasets than can be investigated through the traditional method of close-reading.

The work done in the PhD project will serve as a methodological and practical blueprint for future large-scale analyses in Classics. An outcome of the project should be an easy-to-use interface for classicists and historians, who can leverage NLP tools to answer their own questions. This project will also yield methodological guidelines for answering research questions in Classics through NLP.

*Interdisciplinary Supervising Team:* Saskia Peels (Ancient Greek) https://www.rug.nl/staff/s.peels/ Malvina Nissim (Computational Linguistics) https://www.rug.nl/staff/m.nissim/?lang=en

*Profile/Requirements:* - A Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Classics, held by time of appointment (Sept. 1, 2020), with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment; - Excellent philological skills in Ancient Greek; - Strong affinity with the field of computational linguistics / Natural Language Processing, including the willingness to learn; - Well-developed research and writing skills, independent thinker; - Excellent competence in English; reading competence in French, German, and Italian; - Ability to work in an organized manner, respecting deadlines; team player.

*Application procedure:* Candidates must apply through this link by April 21st : https://www.rug.nl/education/phd-programmes/phd-scholarship-programme/phd-scholarships?details=00347-02S0007NKP (*Project 3*)

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. -------------- next part -------------- A non-text attachment was scrubbed... Name: not available Type: text/html Size: 5721 bytes Desc: not available URL: <https://mailman.uib.no/public/corpora/attachments/20200330/416339ed/attachment.txt>

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