Friday, December 12, 2014

CFP: Medieval Media (Special Issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies)

There's still more than two weeks left to submit an abstract for a proposed special issue of Seminar that Markus Stock and Ann Marie Rasmussen are putting together. The CFP sounds intriguing, and I think I have something that might fit their project. Now that we've reached the end of the semester, I should have time to work up an abstract.
Medieval Media. Special Issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies
In recent years, the mediality of premodern and early modern literary and cultural communication has become a focal point in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Media of transmission, communication, and dissemination have received heightened scrutiny. Scholarship is expanding our understanding of ways in which different kinds of material objects serve as media, and there is renewed interest in the role played by materiality and mediality in the re-circulation, appropriation and adaptation of shared stories, images, and ideas. For a special theme issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, we welcome contributions that take stock of this recent shift in scholarly attention and that probe questions of medieval and early modern mediality from broadly conceived disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. We seek to include contributions from a range of different fields in medieval and early modern studies, drawing on various frameworks and approaches, including: history; art history; literary studies; textual criticism; material studies; architectural history; editorial theory and practice; digital humanities. We are seeking contributions focusing on case studies as well as contributions discussing broader methodological questions.

Lines of inquiry may include:
  • Orality, writing, print: the simultaneity of medieval and early modern media.
  • Text and image reconceptualized as forms of intermediality.
  • Types of media material: stone, wood, parchment, wax, metal, voice.
  • Relationship between the media’s materiality and the semantics of texts or content more broadly construed.
  • Manuscripts as artefacts.
  • Rules, types, and situations of media use.
  • Histories and concepts of media.
  • Mediality in medieval and early modern Catholic religious thought (annunciation, incarnation, sacraments, liturgy).
  • Mediality in medieval and early modern Judaism and Protestantism (preaching; reading; use of images).
  • The body as medium.
  • The charisma of objects.
  • Remote communication (messengers, letters etc.).
  • Media within media: imitation, representation, and appropriation of different types of media in other media.
  • Premodern and early modern multi-media: song, dance, play, images, word, text.
  • Spaces and places of media use: court, castle, monastery, church, city houses, city streets, villages, etc.
  • The Where of the message: walls, books, bodies, badges, etc.
  • Social distribution of media use: media of peasants; burghers; nobles, of members of religious orders, etc.
  • Medieval texts and images in contemporary media (comic books; television; computer games; film).
  • Modern digital tools offering new research approaches to the medieval past.
Please send abstracts of ca. 250 words to both Ann Marie Rasmussen ( and Markus Stock ( by January 1, 2015. Decisions on inclusion will be made by February 1, 2015. The due date for the submission of articles will be July 1, 2015. All submissions will be subject to peer-review.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Online resources for teaching German dialectology

This last semester, I've had the chance to teach a phonetics/introduction to German linguistics course for undergraduate German majors. It's been a fun class. We used the second edition of Sally Johnson and Natalie Braber's Exploring the German Language as the primary textbook, which generally worked well. I found several points needing clarification in the chapter on the history of the German language, but fewer in other chapters.

For teaching about German dialects, I was fortunate to have two native speakers on campus who each came in to talk about their own local dialects and language use. But for class discussion of German dialects, it was a bit tricky to find material that was right for my students (and I'm still looking to add to the collection). Here's a list of things I thought were most useful.

Dialect atlases
  • Online Wenker-Atlas. I'm excited to finally have access to the Wenker maps, but the GIS-powered interface can require a lot of time to figure out how the interface works. Some background in Germanic linguistics and information technology is helpful.
  • Sprechender Sprachatlas von Bayern. This excellent project was user-friendly enough that I could send my students there and let them work independently. I wish there were similar projects for every German state.

Dialect maps
  • Statistik Schweiz. This page from the Swiss government offers several excellent dialect maps of Switzerland, as well as a wealth of other information about Switzerland.

Dialect texts
  • tz auf Bairisch. It was surprisingly difficult to find authentic texts that were not poems, proverbs, nineteenth-century literature, or about Christmas. For comprehensible dialect texts for my students, the dialect edition of a local Munich paper was just right.


  • American English Dialects. This dialect map of North America gives students an idea of American dialect geography.
  • NY Times Dialect Quiz. After looking at the static map, it was useful to go through this dialect quiz so that students could see how their personal and family history influenced the regional affiliation of how they spoke.
  • The Sounds of German. The old site is still incredibly valuable. Let's hope the site redesign now underway doesn't take anything away from that.