PhD position: Illustrated Periodicals for Children in Belgium, 1919-1949

In the context of the FWO research project “Pictures for the Kids: Visual Seriality in Illustrated Periodicals for Children in Belgium, 1919-1949”, we are looking for a PhD researcher candidate to work on the intermedial transformation of Belgian children’s periodicals in the early twentieth-century.


The period stretching from the end of the Great War to the immediate postwar era witnessed a proliferation of mass-market illustrated periodicals and a diversification of its audiences. This project considers the mutations of the children’s magazine in Belgium before the postwar boom of the comics magazine and seeks to highlight the intermedial diversity of these periodicals. Those titles typically included editorial sections, comics, games, puzzles, serial fiction, illustrations, cut-outs, readers’ letters, photographs, advertising and covered a wide range of text-and-image combinations.

This new visual culture in print, aimed at child readers, lies at the foundation of the Belgian comics culture that would flourish in the postwar years. This project sets out to rediscover this forgotten cultural heritage through three objectives: a) map the material transformations of children’s magazines in Belgium between 1919 and 1949; b) trace the changing modes of visual seriality found in these magazines; c) identify how these magazines model reader communities and foster interaction with child audiences.

This research project includes the large-scale digitization and curation of this corpus of children’s magazines at the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR), disclosed through BelgicaPeriodicals, allowing for a mixed method of close and distant reading.


The FWO research project “Pictures for Kids: Visual Seriality in Illustrated Periodicals for Children in Belgium, 1919-1949”, is a collaboration between KU Leuven, Ghent University, and the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR). As PhD researcher, you will integrate the Cultural Studies research group and the MDRN lab at the Faculty of Arts at KU Leuven and will be affiliated with the COMICS team at UGent. You will participate to the collective research activities and may be assigned limited teaching supervision duties at the university. You will also collaborate with the digitization and public valorization of the corpus at the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR) within the Pop Heritage Lab.


We are looking for an enthusiastic, creative and highly motivated candidate with an MA degree in a relevant humanities discipline (cultural studies, literary studies, history, art history, or equivalent). Final-year students who will obtain their degree by July 2024 are also encouraged to apply.

Ideal candidates should have some background in either periodical studies, intermediality theory, popular culture, comics studies, or childhood studies; or a keen interest in pursuing research in these areas. Solid academic writing skills are essential and a good command of French and/or Dutch, alongside English, is a prerequisite to study the corpus.

Experience in archives, libraries, or digital humanities is not essential but is an asset.


A four-year full-time position as doctoral researcher, contingent upon positive evaluation after the first year. The starting date of the position is flexible.

You will be integrated into a diverse research environment, involving partners from different institutions. You will have a shared office space in Leuven, with a flexible work schedule allowing to work partly from home. You will also have a facilitated access to the relevant collections at KBR and will be assisted by the library staff. There is funding available for costs related to the research (such as travels to conferences, archival trips, etc.). If necessary, language courses can be provided to enhance skills relevant to the project.

How to apply

Please upload the following documents through the application platform:

  • Cover letter (max. 3 pages) detailing your motivation to pursue a PhD and explaining how your profile and interests fit in with the aims of the project
  • CV including MA transcripts and copies of degrees
  • A writing sample (eg. MA thesis, paper, published article)
  • One reference letter
  • Deadline for applications: 4 March 2024
  • Notification of selection for interviews: 8 March 2024
  • Interviews: 20 March 2024 (in Leuven or online)
  • Notification of results: 25 March 2024
  • Starting date: flexible, by 1 October 2024


Any questions?

For more information please contact Benoît Crucifix ( and Maaheen Ahmed (

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