Collaborative Research Center 933 "Material Text Cultures"

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Collaborative Research Center 933 "Material Text Cultures"
founding 2011
speaker Ludger Lieb
place Heidelberg
Seat Marstallstrasse 6, 69117, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

The Collaborative Research Center 933 “Material Text Cultures” is a Collaborative Research Center (SFB) of the German Research Foundation (DFG) located at Heidelberg University with the subtitle Materiality and Presence of Writing in Non- Typographic Societies . The research area, established in 2011, deals with the research of the different types of writing and the applied writing in cultures before the invention and establishment of printing . Central research cultures are the Mediterranean , the Middle East and Europe , the time frame includes the area from the development of writing at the end of the 4th millennium BC. In Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt until manual processes were replaced by mechanical processes with the establishment of letterpress printing in Europe since the middle of the 15th century. His research program follows the material turn in the humanities and cultural sciences and attaches particular importance to research into material culture . The specific approaches and research results of the text- oriented and object -oriented disciplines are brought together here.

The SFB 933 is one of the very few humanities special research areas of the DFG and was extended to 2019 in a second application phase in May 2015. In May 2019, a third funding period was approved until 2023.

Around 70 scientists from 18 humanities subjects from Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg University for Jewish Studies are involved . The SFB is clearly cross-faculty. In the area of digital humanities, there is close cooperation with the University Computer Center and the Heidelberg University Library . After the DFG funding has expired, parts of the structures of the SFB are to be transferred to the university structures.

Many small subjects are represented in it, the visibility and structural strengthening of which it is intended to contribute. Altogether there are 17 of 31 small subjects in Heidelberg: Egyptology , Ancient History , Ancient Near Eastern Studies , Byzantine Archeology and Art History , Ethnology , Graec Studies , Islamic Studies , Classical Archeology , Latin Studies , Middle Latin , East Asian Art History , Papyrology , Religious Studies , Sinology , Semitic Studies , Ur- and Early history and Near Eastern archeology .

The spokesman for the SFB was initially the Assyriologist Markus Hilgert . In 2013 the German mediaevalist Ludger Lieb took over this post .

Objectives and central ideas

As a theoretical superstructure, three central objectives were developed for the SFB 933:

  1. the generation of extensive basic research and problem-related source development in the disciplines involved
  2. a content-related, epistemological and methodological development in the text-interpretative historical cultural studies
    1. A further development of the content results from the planned and as complete as possible development, documentation and analysis of the material presence of the written in various fields of practice in such societies in which no methods of mass production and dissemination of written are available or widespread ("non-typographic societies") ) such as
    2. the representation based on this fact of those reception practices whose implementation on what is written is likely due to its material presence.
    3. An epistemological further development is achieved through the recognition and consistent use of the premise that the intrinsic meaning of what is written does not represent an absolute quantity, but that it is open to deviating assignments of meaning within the respective cultural practice, as well as through
    4. the theoretical and methodological examination of the fundamental hermeneutical problem that results from this for research practice in text-interpretative historical cultural studies.
  3. a long-term and structurally anchored promotion of the various specialist cultures through an interdisciplinary, cultural - theoretical research approach .

In the second phase of the SFB, these goals will be pursued further, but will also be broader. Other spaces, cultures and time phases are included. This partially sharpened perspective is described by the SFB as follows:

  1. Diachronic perspective : The SFB intensifies the observation of change, persistence and upheaval and cross-subprojects investigate the questions of how changes in practices and materials are mutually dependent (especially in the transition from non-typographical to typographical societies) and how a single artefact over the course of the project its tradition causes and experiences very different practices ('artefact biographies').
  2. Actor networks : The identification and reconstruction of networks is promoted. Special consideration is given to the fact that often several human actors ' work-sharing ' carry out different practices and that artefacts bearing writing are themselves actors in networks.
  3. Writing and image - writing as image : Artistic and aesthetic aspects as well as text-image artefacts form a further focus. The phenomena that characters have the character of a picture, that inscriptions often have an aesthetic effect rather than hermeneutic text, and that they often have decorative and decorative elements, are being investigated .
  4. Sacred room arrangements : The main focus is on artefacts bearing text in and on sacred rooms. Reliquary shrines , church rooms , graves and entire cities of the dead enable a reconstruction of the practices that relate to the texts found there.
  5. Potential of metatexts : For the reconstruction of substantive text cultures are increasingly texts are used in which writing supporting artifacts itself the subject are (, metatexts'). Observations obtained from metatexts are to be compared with those obtained from actually transmitted artifacts. Then the poetic and imaginary expressiveness of the fantastic-unreal meta-texts for material text cultures is to be examined.
  6. Theoretical-methodical further development : The theoretical-methodical reflection, which is constantly cultivated in the SFB 933, is to be particularly advanced in two directions. Firstly, some sub-projects are testing new scientific and computer-aided analysis methods. Second, new conceptualizations of the research program (e.g. historical text science) or correlations with current research paradigms (e.g. memoria , body , self-fashioning ) arise .


The SFB is divided into 23 sub-projects, which are grouped into four project areas.

Project area A - Materiality and presence of the written in the "social space"

Subproject A01 - What is written and written in the urban space of Greco-Roman antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • Staff: Stefan Ardeleanu, Katharina Bolle, Jon Cosme Cubas Diaz, Nikolas Jaspert , Ludwig Meier, Christian Neumann, Evelien Roels, Marc von der Höh , Stephan Westphalen , Christian Witschel
  • Sub-projects:
    • The presence of text monuments and the self-image of bourgeois communities in Hellenistic and Imperial Asia Minor (3rd century BC - 2nd century AD)
    • Late ancient inscription cultures in the Roman Empire - on the change in communication structures and commemoration media at the end of ancient times (3rd - 7th centuries)
    • Reception and Communal Recreation: Antiquity in Urban Epigraphy in the Latin Mediterranean Region (11th – 13th centuries)
Subproject A02 - Ancient letters as a communication medium
Subproject A03 - Materiality and presence of magical symbols between antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • Staff: Ulrike Ehmig , Andrea Jördens , Konrad Knauber, Carina Kühne, Thomas Meier , Joachim Friedrich Quack ; Former: Sarah Kiyanrad, Christoffer Theis, Laura Willer
  • Sub-projects:
    • Outlaw figures and their dumping
    • Magic in context: defixiones and communication with ancient gods
    • Magical writing and its deposit in medieval graves
  • Cooperation partner:
    • A research group at the University of Sydney led by Iain Gardner and Jay Johnston (collaboration on "magical papyri")
    • Paper restorer Yvonne Stoldt
Subproject A04 - Knowledge transfer from antiquity to the Middle Ages. Conditions and effects of permanent writing using the example of Lorsch Abbey
Subproject A05 - Writing and characters on and in the medieval work of art
Subproject A06 - The paper upheaval in late medieval Europe. Comparative studies on the change in technology and culture in the "social space"
Subproject A08 - Relic authenticity. Research on the materiality and presence of a special form of early medieval writing
  • Staff: Tino Licht (Head), Kirsten Wallenwein
Subproject A09 - Writing on ostraca in the inner and outer Mediterranean region
  • Staff: Julia Lougovaya-Ast (manager), Marek Dospěl

Project area B - Materiality and presence of what is written in "social fields"

Subproject B01 - Materialization of Thought Order. Forms of representation of scholarly knowledge on clay tablets
  • Staff: Stefan Maul (Head), Adrian Heinrich, Lisa Wilhelmi
  • Cooperation partner:
    • Edition of literary cuneiform texts from Assur by the Heidelberg Academy in collaboration with the Vorderasiatisches Museum zu Berlin
    • Diplomatics and Palaeography of Neo- and Late Babylonian Archival Documents under the direction of Michael Jursas
    • Willemijn Waal from the University of Leiden
    • Jon Taylor, Assistant Keeper of the Cuneiform Collections at the British Museum
    • Mainz Graduate College Early concepts of man and nature: universality, specificity, tradition
Subproject B04 - The Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible in its Different Material Forms in Western Europe in the 12th and 13th Centuries
  • Staff: Hanna Liss (head), Elodie Attia; Former: Kay Joe Petzold
Subproject B06 - Material presence of the written and iconographic reception practice in medieval didactic poetry . Text-image edition and commentary on the Welschen guest of Tomasin von Zerklare
Subproject B09 - The writing materials wood and bamboo in ancient China
Subproject B10 - roles in the service of the king. The formats Rolle and Codex in royal administration and historiography in late medieval Western Europe

Project area C - reflections on “materiality”, “presence” and writing in non-typographic societies

Subproject C02 - Tales of the written as the basis of a " text anthropology " of the Old Testament
  • Staff: Friedrich-Emanuel Focken, Jan Christian Gertz , Anna Krauss, Friederike Schücking-Jungblut
  • Sub-projects:
    • Explicit metatexts in Hebrew and Aramaic texts from Persian, Hellenistic and Roman times
    • Between literature and liturgy - pragmatics and reception practice of poetic / liturgical writings of the Judean desert
Subproject C03 - tenses. Spatial forms. Strategies for negotiating the materiality and presence of writing in Augustan literature
  • Staff: Jürgen Paul Schwindt (Head), Maximilian Haas; Former members: Christian D. Haß, Eva Maria Noller
  • Cooperation partner:
    • International research group La poésie augustéenne
    • International center for the theory of philology (with branches in Campinas / São Paulo and Heidelberg)
    • German-Brazilian working group Teoria da filologia - Theory of Philology
    • Heidelberg Master's degree in Classical and Modern Literature
Subproject C05 - Inscription. Reflections on material text culture in literature of the 12th to 17th centuries
Subproject C06 - Career and Education in Islamic Law Firms (adab al-kātib) Or: Administration as a supreme discipline
Subproject C07 - Sacred and Holy Scriptures: On the materiality and function of competing script systems in the formation of the religious field in Bali
Subproject C08 - Inscriptions as Meta-History in Greek Historiography
Subproject C09 - Body descriptions: Text and body in the Iberian literatures of the premodern

Project area Z - central service area

Sub-project INF - service project on information management and information structure
Subproject Ö - Written artefacts in new media
Subproject Z - management and coordination
  • Employees: Ludger Lieb (head), Jessica Dreschert, Monika Fest, Nele Schneidereit

Visiting scholars and conferences

Ancient historian Andreas Bendlin from the University of Toronto visited the sub-project “What is written and written in urban space in Greco-Roman antiquity and the Middle Ages” (A1) in spring 2012. At the invitation of sub-project C03 (“Forms of Time. Forms of Space. Strategies of Negotiation of the materiality and presence of writing in Augustan literature ”), Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht from Stanford University gave a lecture on“ Materiality as a Dimension in the Humanities ” in spring 2014 . Even Christian Benne came for this Project as a visiting professor in Heidelberg. The science historian Alexander Jones from New York University was a guest at SFB 933 in 2015 and worked on the “materiality of time in antiquity”, especially the Antikythera mechanism . The sub-project A02 organized workshops and guest lectures by Malcolm Choat and Alexander Jones from New York University.

The conferences and workshops organized by Collaborative Research Center 933 include:

  • international conference "Presence and invisibility - artefacts bearing signs in sacred space" (subproject A03)
  • international conference “Carolingian Monasteries. Knowledge transfer and cultural innovation "(sub-project A04)
  • international conference “Paper in the Middle Ages. Production and Use / Paper in the Middle Ages. Production and Use "in the Heidelberg University Library (subproject A06)
  • interdisciplinary conference “What does order mean? What orders meaning? Thoughts on what constitutes meaning in the written form "(subproject C03)
  • Workshop things and their writings. Poetology and function of narrated inscriptions (subproject C05)
  • international SFB authors' conference on written communication practices. The production and reception of written artefacts in Old Testament and medieval literature (subproject C05)
  • The Materiality and Efficacy of Aksara: Situating Balinese Scriptural Practices, An International Conference (Subproject C07)

Knowledge transfer to the public

In the 2015 summer semester, the SFB 933, together with the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage, hosted the academic lunch break on the topic of "5,300 years of writing - a small human history in 61 motifs" in Heidelberg's Peterskirche . In 61 short lectures at lunchtime, the development of writing from its beginnings in Mesopotamia and Egypt to the present day was traced in public lectures.

In October 2016, a Glam on Tour station took place in the Antikenmuseum of Heidelberg University .

In addition, the Collaborative Research Center 933 is closely integrated into teaching at Heidelberg University. One example of this is the lecture series “Inscription and Imagery. Material and Inter-Media Dimensions of Writing in German Texts of the Middle Ages ”, which was organized in the winter semester 2011/2012 by the sub-projects B06 and C05.

Results publications

Publication series Materiale Textkulturen

The research results of the SFB are published in a separate series, which includes both anthologies and monographs. The languages ​​of publication are German and English. The series is published by Verlag Walter de Gruyter under the Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC-ND in Open Access . It bears the same name as the SFB, Materiale Textkulturen (MTK) and is also bibliographed in The Ancient World Online . So far the following volumes have been published:

Exhibitions and popular science publications

  • Exhibition "With beautiful figures - book art in the German southwest. An exhibition by the Heidelberg University Library and the Württemberg State Library in Stuttgart "(October 29, 2014 - March 1, 2015; with the participation of sub-project C06)
  • Exhibition “Living Things Texts”: Special exhibition of the Collaborative Research Center 933 in the Heidelberg University Museum, curated by Tina Schöbel.
    • Booklet: Charlotte Lagemann, Tina Schöbel, Christian Vater (editor), Peter Schmidt (editor): Life, Things, Texts. Booklet accompanying the exhibition of the Collaborative Research Center 933 “Material Text Cultures” (Heidelberg University Museum Catalogs 10), SWB-PPN: 425875415.
  • Spectrum of Science Special - Archeology - History - Culture 3/2016: Magic of writing (only contributions from the SFB 933)
  • Michaela Böttner, Ludger Lieb , Christian Vater, Christian Witschel (eds.): 5300 years of writing . Wunderhorn, Heidelberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-88423-565-2 .

E-journal "Material Text Culture Blog"

The "Material Text Culture Blog" is a non-periodic online publication of the SFB 933, which is bibliographed in the German National Library .


Online reports

Radio features and podcasts

  • Campus Report Uni-Radio Baden: The DFG is funding the new Collaborative Research Center 933 , in: Radio Regenbogen on July 20, 2011 Digitized in the German Digital Library .
  • 5412 years of trust in materiality - Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert in conversation (with the media sociologist Prof. Dr. Udo Thiedeke), in: The Sociological Duet on August 13, 2012 (online) .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Meier, Michael R. Ott, Rebecca Sauer: Materiale Textkulturen. Concepts - Materials - Practices: Introduction and Instructions for Use. (PDF; 241 KB) In: 2015, accessed August 13, 2019 .
  2. Current figures from the DFG (source: online )
  3. As of November 2015: 28 sub-project leaders from 18 subjects in 19 scientific sub-projects (including three sub-projects each in A01 and A03 and two sub-projects in C02) with 34 employees (19 postdocs and 15 doctoral students) H. a total of 62 scientists plus the basic staff. Source: List of sub-projects and employees of the SFB 933 ( online )
  4. Five faculties of Heidelberg University are involved. (Source: online )
  5. SFB 933 TP INF ( source: online )
  6. ^ Ministry for Science, Research and Art Baden-Württemberg (editor): Expert commission on the situation of the small subjects in Baden-Württemberg. Recommendations for a future program “Small Subjects” in Baden-Württemberg , Stuttgart 2015. Editors: Markus Hilgert and Michaela Böttner. ( Online as PDF )
  7. in the system of the expert commission on the situation of minor subjects in Baden-Württemberg and including the completed sub-projects of the first funding phase
  8. Objectives & main ideas on the website of the SFB 933
  9. List of the sub-projects of the SFB 933 in the first and second funding phase
  10. Overview of workshops and topics .
  11. Lecture program for the academic lunch break as a PDF file
  12. ^ Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch: Wikipedia writing workshop in the Heidelberger Antikensammlung. Press release from Heidelberg University on the GLAM on Tour station in the Antikenmuseum im IDW. In: September 21, 2016, accessed February 22, 2019 .
  13. Inscription and imagery: German texts from the Middle Ages. Press release from Heidelberg University of October 19, 2011, accessed on March 6, 2019.
  14. ^ Directory of Open Access Books
  15. ^ AWOL - The Ancient World Online
  16. Exhibition "LIFE THINGS TEXTS"
  17. Spectrum Special 3/2016 "Magic of Writing"
  18. 5300 years of writing online publication
  19. See under web links.
  20. ISSN  2195-075X
  21. ^ Report in "AWOL - The Ancient World Online".