DSP College

© Michael Brauer.

The DSP College
Interdisciplinary Research on Historical Cultures

Cooperating institutions:

The institutions cooperating in the College are the Interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Times (IZMF), the Institute for Realestate studies of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period of the University of Salzburg in Krems (IMAREAL), which is also associated with the IZMF. Central High German Term Database (MHDBDB), the Center for Jewish Cultural History (ZJK) and the Department of Antiquity Sciences (FB Altertumswissenschaften), to which the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (CSEL) is associated. The IZMF also provides cooperation with the departments of German Studies, History, Art-Music-Dance Science and Practical Theology.

Description, justification, unique selling point

The points of unique selling point of the College should be:

  • the broad interdisciplinary base, which includes history, philology, art science, archaeology and theology;
  • with classical and Jewish antiquity, Christian and Jewish Middle Ages and early modern times, the comparative study of historical cultures, which are usually negotiated separately;
  • the combination of theoretical research with the innovative methodological development of different primary sources (material, image and written sources) using digital humanities;
  • cooperation at the institutional level, which is oriented not only from a cross-disciplinary but also from a cross-faculty level, and also aims at increased cooperation between university centres.

The general subject area of the College is historical cultures from antiquity to the early modern period. It is intended to serve their interdisciplinary scientific development, whereby two fundamental aspects are central: on the one hand, the difference of historical cultures to the present, i.e. phenomena of historical alterity on several cultural levels such as politics and society, aesthetics, mediality, gender relations, collective and subjective identities, rituality and performance, historical “Weisen der Welterzeugung” (Nelson Goodman) such as time, space, memory, religion; on the other hand, phenomena of the transhistorical effect of historical cultures on the present, which are also present at the mentioned cultural levels.

The focus is on classical, especially Roman antiquity, Jewish antiquity, the Christian and Jewish Middle Ages, as well as the early modern period with its essential phenomena of awakening, specifically the expansion of horizons beyond Europe. The basis of the scientific analysis is all areas of tradition that are available to us. The above-mentioned areas of tradition are to be taken into account in the College precisely in their context, as this corresponds to a modern cultural-scientific-interdisciplinary practice. The institutions involved have been practicing these forms of interdisciplinary research for a long time, and they have been set up, namely IZMF and IMAREAL, precisely to this end.

Interdisciplinarity means, on the one hand, that one is aware of the interference of the areas of the object, such as the historical processes, the literary and artistic production of historical cultural forms. Theoretically and methodically, interdisciplinarity means that there are also productive interferences in scientific working methods, that one can and should learn from each other– simply put.

Cultural interference is also of interest for the reprofiling of the aforementioned historical cultures in synchronous and diachronic terms. The fact that classical antiquity, for example, cannot be regarded as a closed situation unaffected by other cultures is today communis opinio, the same applies to ancient Judaism. In the sense of this comprehensive understanding of interference, the college also wants to be aware of the “provisionalness” and “construction” of a strict epochal divorce and to look at historical caesuras such as continuities. Preliminary work by the IZMF and IMAREAL can be used here. (Cf. the volume: Kontinuitäten, Umbrüche, Zäsuren. Die Konstruktion von Epochen in Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit in interdisziplinärer Sichtung. Hg. von Thomas Kühtreiber und Gabriele Schichta, Heidelberg: Winter, 2016 (Interdisziplinäre Beiträge zu Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit 6), which dates back to a joint meeting of the IZMF and IMAREAL.)

Research programme(s) on which the College is based or in which it is embedded

For several years now, the IZMF has been focusing on research priorities that should combine the centre work. The productive approach that the examination of materiality and mediality opens up to historical cultures has been a focus of interdisciplinary research at IMAREAL since its inception. The so-called “material turn” has given this aspect a new theoretical and object-related dynamic. Consequently, questions about historical materiality and their cultural significance (e.g. with regard to identity and gender, aesthetics and social communication) are to form a central area of work of the college and are pursued in some dissertation projects.

Another focus is the modern editionsphilological development of textual, especially literary sources. The CSEL brings in internationally highly recognised expertise in this area. Edition theory and edition practice (which must differ from the methodology of classical philology in the field of medieval folk languages), questions of manuscript culture and the media communication of literature form a focal point of Salzburg’s medievistic literary studies. Dissertation projects are also located in this area. The other dissertation projects investigate interferences of historical cultures under the mentioned aspects of mediality, rituality and textuality, or from the point of view of linguistic history.

Digital research tools are playing an increasing role in historical sciences. Here, too, the institutions involved, namely IMAREAL and MHDBDB, offer an excellent institutional and operational basis for the College. The colleagues can be given an essential, and certainly critical insight into and a fundamental familiarity with the digital humanities on a theoretical, methodical and research-practical level via the corresponding working instruments (image and term database).