The International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) is an interdisciplinary graduate centre at the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen (JLU), which provides an optimal environment for doctoral students in the study of culture and promotes research excellence in eight well-defined research fields.
A doctorate at the centre We are not a school, but a centre - with you and your work at its core. This is why the GGK/GCSC offers you an optimal combination of freedom, orientation and tailor-made support in all PhD-related matters.
A doctorate from a pioneering model As the first German university with a comprehensive and integrative, structured doctoral program in the humanities and social sciences, the Justus-Liebig-University has been oriented towards meeting the wishes and needs of PhD candidates early on. The GCSC has been designated a pioneering model in numerous external evaluations and distinctions and continues to focus on innovation and excellence. Benefit from the experience of the original!
A doctorate with a system At the GGK/GCSC, you receive practical help and targeted support for each doctoral phase - and beyond. From core courses to the preparation for the defense, from practical workshops to master classes with renowned international scholars: take advantage of our tailor-made, holistic and systematic supervision concept!
A doctorate within a cutting-edge research environment Excellent research is not a question of status. That is why PhD candidates, postdocs and professors work at eye level within our centre's working groups. As an interdisciplinary centre, we rely on a pluralism of methods and theories instead of building "schools of thought". Together with the Centre for Eastern European Studies (GiZo), the Centre for Media and Interactivity (ZMI), the Herder-Institute in Marburg and the SRF/Transregio "Dynamics of Security", the GCSC and JLU offer a research-intensive environment for young scholars in the field of the study of culture. Justus Liebig knew it from the start: the best way to stimulate young researchers is to offer them the possibility to contribute to excellent research!
A doctorate with conference and publication experience In Gießen, we support you in making your work visible early on. Conference experience and publications during the PhD phase are of great importance for a young scholar's qualifications and network. Workshops and coaching for academic writing and lectures are an integral part of this, as is the opportunity to publish your research in our book series and online publication platforms.
A doctorate linked with international networks Successful research emerges from international dialogue: our graduate centre is an initiator and also an integral part of numerous trans-European and worldwide cooperation projects, from which you and your project can tangibly benefit. International summer schools, exchange programs and research stays, co-tutelle doctorates - the sky is the limit!
A doctorate with prospects After obtaining a PhD at the GCSC, you have brilliant career prospects in and outside of academia. Career Services and our Teaching Centre offer comprehensive support, complemented by our alumni network as well as our program for combining career and family. Our successful alumni are proof: a doctorate at the GGK/GCSC is a doctorate with prospects!
Concept-based research lies at the core of our centre and revolves around the key foci of the Research Areas. The conceptual work unites our senior researchers, professors, postdocs, doctoral researchers and their interdisciplinary projects on the content level. Close collaboration and coordination between the Working Groups and Sections of the GGK, as well as the Research Areas and Emerging Topics Research Groups of the GCSC, connect back to this conceptual work, which we regard as the basis for fruitful exchange beyond disciplinary and national boundaries.
Scholars at the Centre engage in research including (but not limited to) the following areas:
(RA 1) Cultural Memory Studies RA 1 addresses approaches to memory, past and present, as well as implicit and explicit forms of cultural memory. Special focuses of research are practices of memory cultures as these vary throughout history. The work of the RA is characterised by attempts to theorise the intersections of the ndividual, cultural, social and political that occur in processes of memory.
(RA 2) Cultural Narratologies The interplay between culture and narration is the primary subject of this research area. By drawing on key concepts of narrative theory, research in this area explores the role of narratives in cultural meaning-making, the forms and functions of storytelling and its evolutionary change.
(RA 3) Cultural Transformation and Performativity Studies The members of RA 3 are especially engaged in research on the performative dimension of culture. Working with concepts such as "theatricality" and analyzing processes of cultural transformation, the research of RA3 is centered on examining interactions such as that between culture and media.
(RA 4) Visual and Material Culture Studies The interests of Research Area 4 revolve around means of production, appropriation, and signification related to visual and material culture. The constantly changing positions of objects and images in cultural and social processes and discourses are investigated by taking into account multiple viewpoints and diverse medial contexts.
(RA 5) Media and Multiliteracy Studies The members of RA5 come from a variety of disciplines, with backgrounds in linguistics, didactics, literature, sociology, and many others. Recently, the RA has been particularly concerned with the interplay between language, culture, and politics, analysing how language and the media are used to shape cultural identities, build communities, and facilitate intercultural communication.
(RA 6) Cultural Identities The members of RA 6 look at the diverse ways in which "culture" and "identity" are mutually dependent. At the center of its work is the intensive consideration of disciplinary approaches in an interdisciplinary context. The RA is interested in writing the histories of the non-unifiable, liquid, and fragmented subject, in order to question the phantasm of owing stable anchors that would construct a consistent identity.
(RA 7) Global Studies and Politics of Space The focus of this RA has been both on comparing national phenomena and their interlinks and on transfers between spaces located in various national cultures. The RA is dedicated to an exploration of how globality and spatiality impinge on each other, foregrounding the relevance of politics and transnational relations for the study of culture.
(RA 8) Cultures of Knowledge, Research and Education The focus of this RA is on the production, transmission and utilisation of knowledge as a key dimension of cultural and social processes, closely tied up with phenomena such as subject formation, globalisation/transnationalisation and cultural transformations.
Further details on the various programmes of the individual Research Areas can be found on our website.
The GCSC offers a holistic, systematic, and custom-designed Research Training Programme for PhD students in the fields of the study of culture. In only six semesters, candidates attain their doctorates, moving from the introductory core course to interdisciplinary research colloquia, advanced seminars in their discipline, and a preparatory course for the dissertation defence.
Basic and Advanced Study As one of the three limited-enrollment doctoral programmes at the Gießener Graduiertenzentrum Kulturwissenschaften (GGK), the GCSC benefits from the experience of established structures at the university. In addition to the core offerings that Giessen PhD students have profited from since the GGK's founding in 2001, the GCSC offers innovative formats for courses and events such as international master classes, keynote lectures, and symposia for junior scholars. The GGK's two partner programmes in literary and cultural studies, the International PhD Programme (IPP) and the European PhD Network (PhDnet), complement the GCSC's array of programmes with additional events.
Multi-level Mentoring Programme GGK and GCSC rely on a comprehensive approach to mentoring. In an advising contract, PhD student and primary advisor define the objectives of each doctorate as well as outlining a detailed schedule. Among the contact persons available for candidates are not only the doctoral supervisor but also postdocs and other PhD students who can provide important suggestions and assistance.
Graduate Curriculum The GCSC's curriculum sets clear goals for each phase of a candidate's doctoral studies, thus guaranteeing that students make steady progress and are able to defend their dissertations after six semesters. The semester-by-semester plan of study recommended by the GCSC offers courses and workshops adapted to each phase of PhD candidacy, while always supporting the dissertation project in the best possible way. Each member of the GCSC can choose from the wide-ranging offerings of the study programme, career service, and teaching centre that best match their personal interests and goals.
Interdisciplinary Research Colloquia Interdisciplinary doctoral colloquia, where the candidates present work-in-progress from their dissertations, are central to our curriculum. The colloquia help candidates to structure their research proposals as well as to practice making scholarly presentations. By receiving constructive feedback from mentors and peers, doctoral students learn effective strategies for completing their studies and defending the dissertation.
Bi-national Supervision: Toward Internationalization One of our important contributions to the internationalization of doctoral training is the bi-national supervision of dissertations. The GCSC encourages and supports doctoral students in choosing a second dissertation supervisor from another nation, and we will assist you if you wish to arrange such a "cotutelle" doctorate with international partners.
The GCSC Scholarship Programme The GCSC annually awards nine doctoral scholarships and a postdoctoral fellowship (for a period not to exceed three years) for highly qualified applicants from cultural disciplines. The application deadline is always in the spring, typically on the 1st of March. For detailed information on current scholarships, please visit the homepage of the GCSC.
The GCSC strongly supports applications from international PhD students. PhD candidates or postdocs who apply for one of the scholarships offered annually have to complete a multi-stage application process. Prospective doctoral students who already have funding from other sources may apply at anytime for membership at GCSC.
Besides its annual scholarships, the GCSC also annually grants membership to 35 to 40 Ph.D. students who submit a qualified project proposal. Even without a fellowship, membership is financially attractive since the GCSC in many cases covers travel and lodging expenses for meetings, conferences, symposia, or longer research stays within the framework of the dissertation project. The staff at the centre can also provide detailed advice on how to attract external funding while also giving practical assistance in how to write a research plans and cover letters.
At the present, over 90% of all GCSC doctoral students complete their PhD with the help of academic funding via scholarships or agencies. On the modalities of the simple application process, you can obtain further information on our website.
Applications for scholarships are subject to special rules that are also advertised each winter when the scholarship announcement appears on our website. Should you have any questions about the application process, you can receive detailed information at our contact address below or on the homepage of the GCSC, where we have put together a number of FAQs for you.
Join an excellent team!
International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen Alter Steinbacher Weg 38 35394 Gießen Germany