Deaf geographies, and other worlds.

Three year PhD studentship – Scripture, dissent and Deaf space: St Saviour’s, Oxford Street

Leverhulme funded project – Scripture, dissent and Deaf space: St Saviour’s, Oxford Street

Department of Religion and Theology, University of Bristol

To commence start of March 2014

The University of Bristol, Department of Religion and Theology is offering one funded PhD studentship to work on a project led by Dr John Lyons, which will examine England’s first Deaf Church, St Saviour’s in Oxford Street, London. Constructed after a request to the Church of England made by a committee of seven Deaf men backed by one of London’s largest Deaf welfare organisations for ‘a church of their own’, St Saviour’s stood for nearly fifty years (1874-1923) as “a great symbol for Deaf people”, a veritable hub for the recognition of the London Deaf community, with their right to worship effectively standing for other rights—to education, to work, to citizenship and to membership of society.

The project will focus upon both a spatial plane, the meeting points between the spaces provided for Deaf people within the church and those spaces produced by Deaf people within it, and the temporal plane, looking back to the original sources of ideas about Deaf people and forward to the ideas held by present day welfare organisations and wider society more generally. As such it will make use of a number of investigative methodologies including Reception History, Deaf space theory, and Utopian theory in order to

  • Identify and chart spaces produced by the Church for Deaf people, and by Deaf people within the church.
  • Interrogate those spaces for a wide variety of knowledges, particularly those that
    • Emerge from scriptural, and other authoritative teachings
    • Represent alternative realities and so challenge the status quo
    • Envisage ‘desired’ ways of being and so author representations of the utopian around the Deaf community and their participation in spaces of worship.

The PhD studentship will focus upon notions of utopia and dystopia as they are mobilised by Deaf people, and by the Church about Deaf people. Within this project, it will be important to develop an understanding of what is feared or hoped for, for and by Deaf people, and how this manifests in the production of Deaf spaces. It will also be key to appreciate the way in which a knowledge of what to fear or what to hope for is built up from received knowledges. An example of this might be how John’s vision described in Rev 7:9 of a heavenly multitude drawing together people from “every tribe and tongue” to speak aloud in worship to God, and the conflation of Mark 2.1-12, John 5.14 and the account of Jesus’ healing of a deaf man in Mark 7, combine to inform the way that Deaf people and the church not only imagine a future ‘resolution’ of deafness, but produce the hopes and fears of that resolution (however framed), in their everyday spaces.

Candidate Requirements

An upper second-class degree and a taught Masters degree.  Home or EU fee status.


Full tuition fees and an annual maintenance payment for three years.

How to apply

Applicants should apply directly online stating the project title on their application http://www.bristol.ac.uk/prospectus/postgraduate/2013/apply.html (the dates on this site seem to be out of date, but try anyway).

Applications should be submitted before 17 January 2014.  Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview before the end of January 2014.


Applications to be submitted before 17 January 2014

To commence start of March 2014



To Informally discuss the project, ring: 0117 3314397 (Me) or email me on: labelgen




This entry was posted on December 20, 2013 by in Academic, DEAF, DEAF history and tagged , , , .
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