DSP College

© Michael Brauer.

The DSP College
Interdisciplinary Research of Historical Cultures

Cooperating institutions:

The institutions cooperating in the College are the Interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Times (IZMF), the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture of the University of Salzburg in Krems (IMAREAL), the Middle High German Conceptual Database (MHDBDB) linked to the IZMF, the Center for Jewish Cultural History (ZJK) and the Department of Classical Studies (FB Altertumswissenschaften), to which the Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (CSEL) is linked. The departments of German Studies, History, Art-Music-Dance Science and Practical Theology are also part of this cooperation.

Description, justification, unique differentiators

The unique differentiators of the College are:

  • the broad interdisciplinary base including history, philology, art science, archaeology and theology;
  • the comparative study of historical cultures that are usually explored separately considering classical and Jewish antiquity, the Christian and Jewish Middle Ages and early modern times;
  • the combination of theoretical research with the innovative methodological analysis of different primary sources (material, image and written sources) using digital humanities;
  • cooperation on an institutional level that is not restricted to departments but includes faculties and also aims at a stronger cooperation of university centres.


The general field of investigation of the College is historical cultures from antiquity to the early modern period. The aim is to explore their interdisciplinary scientific content with two central aspects: 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 “ways of worldmaking” (Nelson Goodman) such as time, space, memory, religion and phenomena of transhistorical effect of historical cultures on the present which also exist on the cultural levels listed.

The focus is on classical, especially Roman antiquity, Jewish antiquity, the Christian and Jewish Middle Ages and the early modern period with its essential phenomena of awakening, expanding the horizon beyond Europe to be concrete. Scientific analysis is based on all areas of tradition that we can use. The College’s aim is to examine these areas of tradition especially in their interrelations as you would expect it from a modern cultural-scientific-interdisciplinary practice. The cooperating institutions have applied these forms of interdisciplinary research for a long time, with the IZMF and the IMAREAL having been established exactly for this purpose.

Interdisciplinarity means to be aware of the interference of the object areas, such as historical processes or the production of literature and arts in forms of historical culture. Regarding theory and methodology, it also means productive interference in scientific working methods, that – put simply – you can and should be willing to learn from each other.

Cultural interference is also interesting for the reprofiling of the aforementioned historical cultures in synchronous and diachronic terms. It is common opinion today that classical antiquity, for example, cannot be regarded as a closed situation unaffected by other cultures which is also true for ancient Judaism. Following this idea of complex interference, the College is deliberately aware of the “provisional” and “constructed ” character of a sharp division of epochs and explores both historical breaks and continuities. They can fall back on preliminary work by the IZMF and the IMAREAL. (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 IZMF and IMAREAL.)

Research programme(s) the College starts from or is embedded in

For several years, the IZMF has defined key research topics to bundle the work of the centre. Since its foundation, interdisciplinary research at the IMAREAL has focused on the productive approach that the examination of materiality and mediality of historical cultures opens up. The so-called “material turn” has given this aspect a new theoretical and object-related impulse. 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, being investigated in a few dissertation projects.

Exploring textual, especially literary sources from the viewpoint of modern edition philology is another field of special interest where the CSEL brings in internationally highly recognised expertise. Edition theory and edition practice (which must differ from the methodology of classical philology in the field of medieval vernaculars), questions of manuscript culture and media communication of literature are in the centre of Salzburg’s medieval literary studies. Dissertation projects are deal with in this field. Other dissertation projects explore interferences of historical cultures considering the mentioned aspects of mediality, rituality and textuality or aspects of linguistic history.

Digital research tools play an increasing role in historical sciences where the involved institutions, namely the IMAREAL and the MHDBDB, provide an outstanding institutional and operational basis for the College. Using the corresponding instruments (image and term database), the College members get an essential, and certainly critical insight into the digital humanities making them familiar with processes in theoretical, methodical and research-practical levels.