DSP-Research Group

Interdisciplinary Study of Historical Cultures (Antiquity – Middle Ages – Early Modern Period)


The aim of the DSP Research Group is the interdisciplinary academic study of historical cultures from antiquity up to the early modern period. The focus is on two basic aspects: 1) the difference between historical cultures and the present, that is, on the phenomenon of historical alterity, which is observable on various cultural levels such as politics and society, aesthetics, mediality, gender relations, collective and subjective identities, rituality and performance, as well as historical “Ways of Worldmaking” (Nelson Goodman) such as time, space, memory, religion; 2) the transhistorical influence of historical cultures on the present, which is also observable on the same cultural levels.

The main subjects of interest are classical, above all Roman antiquity, Jewish antiquity, the Christian and Jewish Middle Ages, and the early modern period with its essential characteristics of reorientation and expanding horizons beyond Europe. In accordance with state-of-the-art practice of interdisciplinary cultural research, scientific analysis will based on all areas and types of sources covered by the college. The institutions involved have long practiced this form of interdisciplinary research, indeed they – specifically IZMF and IMAREAL – were founded to that purpose.

Interdisciplinarity means awareness of overlapping subjects, like historical processes, literary and artistic production of historical forms of culture. In theoretical and methodical terms, interdisciplinarity means that there is, at the same time, a productive contact zone in the scientific practice of scholars from different academic fields.

Furthermore, culture contact is of relevance for the reprofiling of the mentioned historical cultures in both a synchronic and diachronic way. Based on this comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of overlap and contact, the college aims at an awareness of the tentativeness and constructedness of strictly separated epochs while closely looking at historical breaks and continuities.

The following thematic approaches will be at the focus of interest:

  • Materiality and mediality
  • Performance and representation 
  • Digital Humanities 
  • Edition

In this way, the college connects to the guiding principles of the PLUS ‘Art in Context’ and ‘Digital Life’.