Sandra Hofert, M.A.

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Graduiertenkolleg 1876
Hegelstr. 59
55122 Mainz


Project title: Volkssprachliche Naturdidaxe. Funktionalisierung und Instrumentalisierung von Tieren, Pflanzen und Steinen in deutschsprachigen Texten des Hochmittelalters.

Supervisor: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Claudia Lauer, Prof. Dr. Marion Gindhart

Dissertation project:

Teaching with the help of nature and about nature are connected very closely: In many mediaeval texts animals, plants and minerals are described and utilized in different ways. Amongst other things their characteristics and exegesis are especially used for moral-didactic purposes. In my Dissertation project I will study different Middle High German texts from the High Middle Ages, especially from the 13th century, which deal with the relationship between micro- and macrocosms and with the transfer of parts of nature to the human life.

Research interest and questions
Linked to the analysis of the traditions of knowledge, which underlie the texts, and the concepts of nature and human, that the texts devise, is the question of the strategies, which the different authors use to compose their texts, and of the instrumentalization of parts of nature: How are animals, plants and minerals listed, described and used didactically to exploit the ordo of nature as a regulating system for humans? Which knowledge do they convey and how are they used? Are they used metaphorically or are they part of an aesthetic technique?

Selection of texts
The text corpus will focus on wissensvermittelnde Texte (texts, which are transmitting knowledge). Since nature is used for a didactic purpose in many texts, both longer and shorter ones, I want to choose examples of both categories and analyse them contrastively: So on the one hand there will be an analysis of "Der Welsche Gast" by Thomasin von Zerclaere, "Die Be­scheidenheit" by Freidank and "Der Renner" by Hugo von Trimberg, on the other hand several exemplary selected Sangsprüche will be considered, that since at least the 12th century understood themselves as Singen von und über Moral ("Singing from and about moral"). This way a broad textual base is being provided to ensure the validity and the representativeness of my research. Furthermore, each text’s individual historic background will be included, so that the texts will be set in relation to one another as well as to the context of their traditions.