Embodying loss: crafting the material in the time of pandemic

Embodying loss: crafting the material in the time of pandemic

Eligibility: UK/EU graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU)

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 7th October 2020

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2021

For further details contact Professor Patricia Phillippy


Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship within the transdisciplinary Cultural Memory and Critical Practices strands of the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought many changes to our daily social practices, among the most painful is the disappearance of memorial and commemorative rituals attending death. This practice as research project explores the alternative forms of commemoration that have emerged from past pandemics, and explores similar forms as they evolve in and emerge from Covid-19. The project’s specific interest is to interrogate and demonstrate the memorial capacity of material objects and to create commemorative artefacts that respond to both private loss and public memory.


Throughout western history, memorial artefacts have helped survivors of loss to carry on and recover by embodying remembrance of the departed loved one. Separation is mediated by the presence of the material artefact. Increasingly in the fields of literary study and cultural history, theories of embodiment have encouraged a view of subjects and objects as joined in ecologies of emotion, experience and environment. Less investigated have been the stability and success of material artefacts when bereavement moves from the private to the public. In times of plague or pandemic, when the traditional forms of and rituals of death and mourning are overturned, individual loss risks becoming trivialized by the numbers of the dead. This project combines the strands of material culture, literary studies and craft practice to explore how the ritual processes and products of craft can ameliorate the private pain of separation and social isolation in the context of overwhelming public loss. Examining historical memorial arts and objects, and creating a series of handmade artefacts which aim to embody shared bereavement, this project investigates how these multimodal artefacts can renew social connections and revitalise individuals and communities as they emerge from and learn to live with Covid-19.


This is a fully-funded PhD studentship, including:

  • Full tuition fees
  • Stipend/bursary


Training and development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities

Entry Requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

Additional Requirements

  • The potential to engage in craft and handmade practice and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years
  • A good knowledge and understanding of and/or experience in creative practice
  • Ability to perform historical and critical research and to engage with historical texts and artefacts
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work independently

How to apply

To find out more about the project, please contact Professor Patricia Phillippy.

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus an up to 2000-word statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Apply to Coventry University