Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Project title: Dead bodies: Semantics of the mortal / transient in the German Medieval texts.
Supervisors: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Claudia Lauer, Prof. Dr. Tanja Pommerening
Along with such subjects as Love, War and Power, the subject of Death is central for literature of all times and languages. It also raises certain scientific interest amongst those who study German Medieval texts, as there were many of deaths described in a variety of genres and text types of the Middle Age, such as religious, epic, and narrative literature, and specialized non-fiction texts.
Studying the process of death from different points of view, researchers inevitably come to the fact that a dead body is an obvious proof of death both in real life and in the fictional world of literature. To concentrate on the physical aspect of the human body, live or dead, becomes more significant for the modern scientists, and that is also reflected in the medieval literature studies. The contemporary approach emphasizes a conversion from the 'bodiless' historiography to the so-called history of body. The subject of this dissertation project, therefore, is dead bodies' representation in the German Medieval literature, the place and role the medieval authors prescribed them in their texts.
The object of the project research includes medieval German texts of different genres circa 1200 A.D. Extended concept of literature allows the author to study German fictional heroic epos and chivalric novels along with some specialized texts, namely law and medical documents.
The aim of the dissertation project is to classify the episodes with dead bodies from as many different text types as possible, and to study them afterwards using the discourse analytical method. The author does not aim to recreate the medieval reality. The research studies the context of dead bodies’ representations in the medieval texts and their semantic verbalization.