PhD or MPhil Scholarship: Sign Languages in Contemporary Films and Series

PhD or MPhil Scholarship: Sign Languages in Contemporary Films and Series

$34,000 per annum, 3 years

Applications are invited for a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or MPhil (Master of Philosophy) scholarship in Screen Studies for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person. The scholarship is supported by the Australian National University and is part of the Australian Research Council-funded project, ‘Sign on Screen: Language, Culture and Power in Sign Language Cinemas’.

This broader project aims to discover how contemporary screens represent deafness and how sign language cinemas filter Deaf and non-ableist perspectives. Partnering with Deaf Connect and the National Film and Sound Archive, this project provides a transnational, transdisciplinary framework for analysing sign language on screen in terms of completeness and empowerment. It focuses on feature films, series, documentaries, shorts and other screen media in global sign language dialogue, including Auslan, and includes the creation of a complete database of all screen texts featuring sign languages. Sign on Screen aims to create new opportunities for Deaf/hearing dialogue and cohesion and enhanced capacity to harness screen cultures to support and reflect the diversity of Deaf experience.

The PhD/MPhil Project

The PhD/MPhil candidate will develop an independent project within this larger context. Areas of focus may include but are not limited to the place of sign language, deafness and related questions in:

  • Screen analysis (cinema, television, streaming, documentary, etc.)
  • Screen history
  • Production studies, including Deaf-led filmmaking and representation in industry
  • Audiovisual translation and screen accessibility
  • Reception studies, especially Deaf reception of sign language screen texts

The research may take the form of a traditional thesis or a shorter exegesis with a creative component (film, exhibition, etc.) A focus on Australian sign languages including Auslan and/or Indigenous sign languages is an advantage, but not a requirement.

The candidate will be supervised in a Deaf-friendly environment at the Australian National University, with primary supervision by a hearing researcher, Gemma King, who will complete her Diploma of Auslan by December 2023. They will have access to interpreting, reasonable adjustments and other services according to their needs. They will be invited to join the ANU Auslan Club and may have access to some Auslan film club and teaching opportunities, if desired. However, it is not essential that the candidate be fluent in Auslan to apply.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Candidates may apply directly to the PhD if they have an Honours degree or equivalent qualification with an average of a High Distinction (HD/H1) in a related field (ex. film studies, Deaf/disability studies, cultural studies, translation studies). Candidates with a Bachelor degree with an average of HD/H1 in a related field, but not an Honours or equivalent qualification, may apply to the MPhil. There is a possibility of conversion from MPhil to PhD after one year, subject to performance.

The successful applicant will be provided with a scholarship of AUD $34,000 per year, tax free, for 3 years in the case of a PhD and 2 years in the case of an MPhil, with the possibility of 6 months extension. In addition, they will receive a fee waiver and generous funding for conference and fieldwork travel. Research assistance work may also be available to help develop the project’s connected film festival, ‘Sign on Screen’, to be held at the National Film and Sound Archive in 2025. International applicants are eligible to apply.

Contact Dr Gemma King for more details and to discuss and develop your proposal: Following this, the successful applicant will apply through the usual channels to the PhD or MPhil program in CASS (the College of Arts and Social Sciences).

Updated:  7 February 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications