Senior Research Associate and Associate Director of the ARTFL Project

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Position Description

The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago, in collaboration with the Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language (generally known as the ARTFL Project) and the Textual Optics Lab, seeks a Senior Research Associate in Digital Humanities and Romance Languages and Literatures. This position reports to the Chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

This Senior Research Associate position has two overlapping sets of responsibilities:

1) Associate Director of the ARTFL Project

The successful candidate will have specific responsibilities for providing leadership in technical and methodological development efforts and will work closely with the Director/s of ARTFL and the Textual Optics Lab. The candidate will manage a team of several programmer/s, develop a roadmap, and set priorities, will play an active role in the development of the Textual Optics Lab, and will be expected to promote the work done at the ARTFL Project in order to enhance the visibility of computation methods for the study of text within and outside of the University of Chicago. This means presenting and publishing the results of the research and development conducted within the ARTFL Project.

2) Scholar and teacher specializing Romance Languages and Literatures (period/field open). The successful candidate will contribute to teaching and curriculum development in the University of Chicago’s MA in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History (DIGS).

In research and pedagogical interaction with digital tools and methodologies, s/he would be responsible for developing courses related to the language, literature, and cultural history of his/her area of research, leveraging the extensive public and private digital holdings of the University. Teaching literature and literary history in and through digital humanities will provide the successful candidate with an avenue for the propagation of the techniques and advances afforded by a dual understanding of the literary field and software development and also for testing various theories and approaches in a dialogical relation with students on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The successful candidate will stimulate cross-fertilization and interdisciplinary interaction by bringing together students with very different profiles and interests, helping students to develop their skills and open up new career possibilities. The successful candidate will teach two courses annually in literature and/or digital humanities. In general, at least one of the courses should combine literary or cultural history with a digital component aimed at assuring that all our students have the opportunity to become digitally literate. The candidate may contribute to the DIGS core sequence, and/or offer elective courses as approved by the relevant faculty partners; and may supervise a limited number of BA and/or MA theses. The selected candidate will be appointed for an initial term of three years, and the position is renewable upon successful review. The anticipated start date for the position is July 1, 2020, or as soon as possible thereafter.


Digital humanities is a growing field that encapsulates a wide array of emerging practices, ranging from the creation and exploitation of new forms of expressive media, the reformulation of traditional textual practices such as scholarly editing, to the integration of artificial intelligence and data analytics to the analysis of literature in its various manifestations. Founded in 1982, the ARTFL Project is one of the oldest and most successful digital humanities projects in the country and has played a significant role in the development of this field over the past 30 years. ARTFL’s PhiloLogic suite of text querying software, widely used both here and abroad, is language agnostic and has been specifically designed for humanistically-oriented research. The ARTFL Project currently houses over 150 databases in languages including English, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Latin and Greek as well as the highly acclaimed electronic edition of the Encyclopédie, Diderot and d’Alembert’s Enlightenment engin de guerre. Most of these databases are available to the general public. Many of these important textual resources were developed at ARTFL or in collaboration with researchers on campus and at institutions across North America and abroad, including Stanford University and the University of Minnesota as well as international collaborators including teams at Oxford University and Sorbonne Université.

From its very inception, ARTFL’s querying software PhiloLogic emphasized the importance of close textual reading to examine closely passages proposed by search algorithms. In the past decade, the large-scale digitization of text collections combined with the application of sophisticated algorithms and visualization techniques has led to new methods of scholarly inquiry often subsumed under the title “distant reading.” A major challenge in digital humanities involves developing a strategic understanding of these two poles of reading—the close and the distant. ARTFL is well situated to take on this challenge given the breadth and depth of its digital holdings and the variety of computational methods it has developed for investigating these collections beyond the keyword search. Its longstanding connection with the Department of Romance Languages, and the newer ties it has built with the Research Computing Center and the Center for Digital Scholarship (among other campus initiatives), means that it is also well positioned to contribute to teaching and research on campus in a wide range of areas. The position of Senior Research Associate thus demands innovative thinking and a proactive attitude concerning questions that digital humanities methods, approaches, tools, and theories raise in various academic disciplines. It requires the ability to define long-term research goals and make strategic choices in software and collections development.


The successful candidate is required to have a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures (period/field open). The candidate must have superior reading knowledge of French and knowledge of other languages is desirable. The position requires demonstrated capability in research and development work in digital humanities with a specific focus on large-scale text analysis using modern systems and programming techniques. The candidate will also need to be familiar with the literature on machine-learning and artificial intelligence and their relevance to digital humanities.

The following technical skills are desirable: 

  • Digital archive experience, including parsing, text object structure, SQL representation
  • Python (demonstrated experience with information retrieval and machine-learning libraries)
  • Golang (demonstrated experience in building server-side applications in Go or similar server side languages (webserver + API service)
  • Demonstrated experience using MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite
  • Front-end development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript; experience with JavaScript libraries and frameworks such as AngularJS, ReactJS, or VueJS also strongly recommended. Should also have experience using front-end frameworks such as Bootstrap, Foundation, or Material Design Lite.
  • Ability and desire to learn new programming languages based on needs.

The following teaching and research experience is desirable:

  • Working on digital humanities projects, both as project manager and lead developer
  • A strong record of publications and presentations at digital humanities conferences
  • Experience in teaching digital humanities courses

Application Instructions

To apply for this position, candidates are asked to upload the following materials to the UChicago Acdemic Recruitment platform at 1) a cover letter that addresses their ability to fulfill both required components of the position; 2) a cv; 3) a one-page statement of teaching philosophy that directly addresses the ways in which digital humanities methods and techniques can enrich the classroom; 4) a writing sample; 5) the names and contact information of three individuals who may be asked to provide letters of reference. Review of applications will begin on December 16 and will continue until the position has been filled or the posting is closed.

This position is contingent upon final budgetary approval.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.

Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-1032 or email with their request.

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