The Collaborative Research Centre "Material Text Cultures. Materiality and Presence of Writing in Non-Typographic Societies" (CRC 933) will continue its successful work at Heidelberg University for another four years. After an international expert evaluation, the German Research Foundation (DFG) approved a second funding period in the amount of approx. 10 million euros. The goal of the Collaborative Research Centre, which was established in 2011, is to develop new interpretative methods to analyse ancient and medieval texts. Numerous researchers from a variety of humanities disciplines are involved in the study of texts and their material presence. The Heidelberg College for Jewish Studies is also participating. The spokesperson for CRC 933 is medievalist Ludger Lieb from the Department of German Language and Literature at Ruperto Carola.
The "Material Text Cultures" CRC is focused on artefacts that bear writing from societies in which writing was or is not reproduced by industrial means. This includes guides to ostracism rituals from Ancient Egypt, cuneiform-inscribed clay tablets from Mesopotamia and ancient correspondence on papyrus from the Mediterranean region. Also under study are inscriptions on public buildings in ancient Asia Minor, authenticity certificates of mediaeval relics and the various versions of "Der Welsche Gast" [The Romance Stranger], a mediaeval guide to manners whose oldest manuscript is housed in the Heidelberg University Library. These types of artefacts are significant especially for their material profiles, spatial arrangements, and the behaviours and activities related to them. The objects and writings being examined by the CRC provide insight into "material text cultures", i.e., the complex relationships between materiality, writing and cultural practices.
"Our Collaborative Research Centre also aims to further promote creative and innovative thinking. Our junior researchers, in particular, can share results and learn from one another. We want to embrace new fields of research, improve analytical processes and, finally, generally advance humanities research with a new set of tools," explains Prof. Lieb.
Currently 21 professors and 50 junior researchers are working on 24 different projects within CRC 933. Ludger Lieb attributes the success of the past four years and the promise of the second funding period to the structures specific to Heidelberg as a centre for research. "Our Collaborative Research Centre is founded on the traditional Heidelberg humanities, characterised by a large number of "small disciplines" and an unusual thematic range. With the University Library, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the major scientific collections and the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage, we have excellent local cooperative partners".