Literary Studies

Henrike Lähnemann's Start in Oxford

The new Chair of Medieval German Literature also installs partnership with University of Freiburg

10.2.2016 | Last month Henrike Lähnemann officially assumed her duties as professor of medieval German literature and linguistics at the University of Oxford, England, with an inaugural lecture on manuscripts from North German convents. The event was also the starting signal for a partnership between the Universities of Oxford and Freiburg.
The medieval studies professor will spend two months each year at the University of Freiburg as a fellow of the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), thus intensifying the close cooperation in medieval German studies between the two universities. "The professorship is an example of a new kind of cooperation in the humanities and also points the way toward a strengthening of German studies in Great Britain," says Rector Prof. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. "The University of Freiburg stands to benefit from Lähnemann's regular stays at FRIAS – not only from her expertise in the religious literature of the German Middle Ages but also from her seminars for students and practical competency training courses for graduates and young researchers."
Prof. Henrike Lähnemann
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(© St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University)

Prof. Henrike Lähnemann | When Henrike Lähnemann moved to Oxford, she became the first woman to hold a chair in modern philology in 150 years. Before, she was Chair of German Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Lähnemann's next stay in Freiburg will be in July and August 2016.

This novel cooperation is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Volkswagen Foundation. "Our aim in providing funding for the German studies chair at the University of Oxford is to intensify scholarly exchange on Germany-related topics, particularly among young scholars. The teaching will enrich the discussion on German literature, culture, and history even outside of the two partner universities," says DAAD secretary general Dr. Dorothea Rüland.

"The model has precursors as early as the Middle Ages, when scholars moved between universities in various countries, thus breathing life into the academic culture," comments Lähnemann. In addition to conducting research, she will spend her time in Freiburg holding workshops and giving talks on topics like English abstract writing, presentation techniques, and the visualization of research. She herself uses social networks like Twitter to make her findings available and understandable.

Her research focuses on the religious literature of the Low German area, especially the manuscript tradition of the Cistercian convent in Medingen in the 15th century. Lähnemann is fascinated above all by the self-confidence of the nuns, whose writings reveal an independent theological profile. For example, the nuns of Medingen translated their prayers from Latin to Low German to make their religious messages available to laypeople.
  (© Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau, AcademiaNet )
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