Two members of the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Dr Erika Balsom (Film Studies) and Dr Shaul Tor (Philosophy & Classics), have been awarded prestigious Philip Leverhulme prizes.
These prizes, each worth £100,000, are awarded annually to a select number of UK academics across the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences “to help realise their personal vision in research and professional training”.
A distinctive aspect of these awards is that they are made “in the responsive mode” - given on the strength of past research and with the choice of future topics/areas of study left entirely up to the recipient. As such, they are highly sought-after within UK academia, and the selection process is highly competitive.
“This is great news and a tremendous achievement,” said Dr Johanna Malt , the Faculty’s Interim Executive Dean. I send [Dr Balsom & Dr Tor] my heartiest congratulations!”
Dr Balsom’s fields of study are cinema and visual culture - especially experimental/artistic filmmaking, documentary filmmaking and digital culture. Her research has focused on the relationship between cinema and visual art, both on the ‘changing role of the moving image in contemporary art’, and on the histories of distribution/circulation in film and video art.
With publications on Early Greek (‘Presocratic’) philosophy and Hellenistic skepticism, Dr Tor’s research often straddles traditional disciplinary boundaries - he is a member of both the Department of Classics and the Department of Philosophy. Much of his past work has focused on the relations between philosophy and religion in Ancient Greek thought.
The Leverhulme Trust notes on their website that they “do not set strategic priorities for grant-making” and that “in making funding decisions [their] sole concern is for the quality, significance, and originality of the proposed research.”
In the case of Dr Balsom, her proposed research will continue to look at artists’ engagements with the moving image, but will ‘engage specifically with documentary practices’. Dr Tor’s planned work, Knowledge and Boundaries in Ancient Greek Philosophy, will explore “how at various important moments in the history of Greek philosophy, models of knowledge and understanding are crucially bound up with reflection on limits of different kinds (physical, conceptual, logical) or on the absence of such limits”.
Dr Balsom and Dr Tor’s successes echo those of their Arts & Humanities colleagues Dr Toby Green (History & SPLAS) and Dr Alice Taylor (History), who were both awarded Philip Leverhulme prizes in 2017 .
The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 they have provided grants and scholarships for research and education; they are one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year