Coordinator: Flavio Fergonzi

Ph.D. Board a.y. 2018-19:

Francesco Benigno, SNS
Roberto Esposito, SNS
Flavio Fergonzi, SNS
Massimo Ferretti, SNS
Andrea Mariuzzo, SNS
Ilaria Pavan, SNS
Rolf Petri, Università di Venezia Ca’ Foscari
Lucia Simonato, SNS
Massimo Stella, SNS
Giovanni Vian, Università di Venezia Ca’ Foscari

Cultures and Societies of Contemporary Europe

Academic Year 2018-2019

The contemporary era, ranging from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day, can be seen as a stratified horizon displaying historical phenomena, philosophical categories, literary practices and artistic expressions with dynamics different from those of preceding eras. In order to perceive its most characteristic features, we must consider the specificity of the various languages but above all we must take into account their reciprocal implications.

The Scuola Normale Superiore has a long tradition of studies that have emphasised this interweaving of knowledges. The PhD course in the Cultures and Societies of Contemporary Europe is designed for highly motivated students wishing to tackle this stratification with its wealth of knowledge. While maintaining the specificity of the analytical instruments of each individual discipline and applying the latest methods that science can offer, courses and tutorials will be available to the PhD students that are aimed at integrating the various competences in a single cultural framework. The final PhD thesis will be expected to present scientific innovation and a broad line of enquiry on a level with the cream of international-scale research studies.

The PhD course revolves around four subjects: history, philosophy, the history of art and literature.

Research in contemporary history follows the threads of the cultural, socio-economic and religious history of the Atlantic revolutions to the present day. The principal themes of study are the industrial revolutions, welfare and subjective rights, the variations in collective identifications and their representations, and the turmoil in the relationships between Christianity and modernity. The methodological approach is based on a rigorous application of the historico-critical method, starting from the philological analysis of the sources.

The backbone of the research studies in contemporary philosophy is the analysis of the concept of contemporaneity as compared with those of modernity and postmodernity, the study of the genealogical relationship between origin and the here and now, the contemporary philosophies of Europe and on Europe and the theme of the relationship between European philosophy and the national philosophies, and the paradigms of hermeneutics, deconstruction and biopolitics.

The research studies in contemporary art revolve around the study of artworks and the visual languages and texts of art criticism of the last two centuries. Particular attention is paid to the themes of activist critical debate, the history of museums and exhibitions, the critical and visual fortunes of the artists of preceding centuries, and the various practices of diffusion and reception of artistic objects.

The literary research studies regard the poetical, narrative, critical and theoretical production from the 19th century to the present. Study themes of particular relevance are, on the one hand, the theory of literature and the study of poetics, and, on the other hand, the history of the philology of the 19th and 20th centuries intended as an instrument of analysis of the cultural history of Europe.


The Program consists of lectures and seminars.

In consultation with their course coordinator, each year students will present a study plan to the Faculty Board where they specify what research and training they plan to do in the coming academic year. In their three years at the School, the students will attend and pass the examinations of at least three annual courses. Such courses are chosen in order to broaden the cultural base of students and to orient them towards a specific research project.

At the end of the first year and in agreement with the PhD Board, the students will propose the name of the supervisor of their thesis and its topic for approval by the Faculty Board.

During the three years of the course, the students are expected to participate in seminars offered by the School and to take part in research internships in institutions both in and outside Italy.

At the end of each academic year, with the exception of the final year, the students will then be interviewed on the studies and research they have carried out during the year in front of a committee appointed by the Faculty Board and including teachers of their course. Successfully passing this interview means that the students can keep their post and fellowship, and thus be admitted to the following year.

At the interview, the students will present a report on their scholarly activity, their research and its results, any seminars, congresses, or other scientific activities they have participated in, and any publications they have produced. For admission into the final year, this report will include a section relating to the progress made in their research project.

Available scholarships: 0