TOPIC AREA
HUMANITIES, CULTURAL STUDIES, AND HISTORY

A piece of writing from the Clemens Brentano Collection of the Mainz University Library (photo: Peter Pulkowski) CLEMENS BRENTANO COLLECTION

The mouse, the poet, and the dance

The Clemens Brentano Collection provides intimate insights into the life and world of one of the greatest German Romantic poets. Along with hundreds of examples of lively correspondence, there are drafts of poems and household plans, outlines for dramas and drawings. The collection, which was acquired by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in 1950, is housed in the Mainz City Library.


Aerial view of the excavated early Islamic caliph's palace Khirbat al-Minya (photo/©: Yaniv Darvasi, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) ANCIENT STUDIES

Saving a desert palace in the green Jordan valley

The caliph's palace Khirbat al-Minya is an important testimony to early Islamic culture in Israel. However, the site has been falling into disrepair ever since German archaeologists uncovered it in the 1930s. Dr. Hans-Peter Kuhnen, Head Academic Director at the Department of Ancient Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), has taken a first step towards stopping the decay.


Pfirsichkerne der Archäobotanischen Vergleichssammlung (Foto: Thomas Hartmann)THE ARCHAEOBOTANICAL REFERENCE COLLECTION

The essence of all things

The largest object is a peach stone lying next to cereal grains, tiny grape pips, and the seeds of wild herbs. At first glance, the Archaeobotanical Reference Collection of the Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology division at the Department of Ancient Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) seems anything but impressive. But as Dr. Margarethe König begins to tell of the stories and history that form its background, it is becoming more and more interesting.


Augsburg Master Builders' ledgers 1454, 1456/1, 1456/2 and 1463 (Imperial City, Master Builders' Office, Official Ledgers 51, 53, 54, 60) (photo/©: Augsburg City Archive) HISTORICAL CULTURAL STUDIES

From parchment to the Internet

The Augsburg Master Builders' ledgers offer deep insights into the history of an important German imperial city. This nearly seamless chronicle extends over almost five hundred years. Professor Jörg Rogge of the Department of History of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has initiated a project which aims at preparing a digital version of this amazing historical source documentation.


Mahmoud Hassanein has translated "Das Sams" into Arabic. (photo: Britta Hoff) TRANSLATION

The Sams learns Arabic

Last year, the Goethe Institute awarded its German-Arabic Translation Prize in the Young Translators category to Mahmoud Hassanein, a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germersheim. Here he talks about his work, about literature, and about cultures.


Author Raúl Zurita and Liliana Bizama (photo: Max Frömling) RESEARCH FUNDING

Arte es Vida – Life is Art

Through its internal Research Funding Line I, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) provides support to various research projects. Among these is an unusual undertaking that focuses on the Chilean artist collective C.A.D.A., its members, and their global links to other avant-garde movements. This is the particular interest of Liliana Bizama of the Faculty of Translation Studies, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies in Germersheim.


INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH

Of differences and differentiation

People are not simply different; they additionally make distinctions among themselves. At times, skin color is to play a role, then there is faith, nationality, gender. The research unit "Un/doing Differences. Practices in Human Differentiation" investigates the mechanisms that are behind what causes us to make distinctions and what it is that can make these distinctions disappear. A range of different researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are working hand-in-hand for this purpose – across the boundaries of their own disciplines.


 

Among the Egyptology Study Collection at Mainz University is this altar piece showing Seti I offering a sacrifice of wine to the goddess Hathor. (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer) EGYPTOLOGY STUDY COLLECTION

From the Holy Water of Horus to Akhenaten's pot belly

Some 30 exhibits are witness to 3,000 years of history. They tell of gods and pharaohs, of raising poultry, of magic water, and of unusual fashions. The Egyptology Study Collection at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) may be small, but it offers a lot of material for learning and teaching, for discovery and discussion.


Professor Dagmar von Hoff (photo: Peter Pulkowski) EUROPEAN RESEARCH NETWORK

"What we are doing is 'reading' violence"

What can literature and film, what can the various media do to help uncover the structures underlying violence? This is the focus of research being undertaken by a network of German Studies scholars, among whom is Professor Dagmar von Hoff of the German Department at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). She believes that German Studies as a discipline needs to take a more international, intercultural, and intermedial approach.


A look into the Indian Bronze Collection (photo: Peter Pulkowski) INDOLOGY COLLECTIONS

Buddha's nose and good fortune

The collection is small but impressive: the bequest of Ursula Walter has found a home at the Institute of India Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Indian gods and Buddhas, various everyday objects, and fine votive offerings for the temple can be found here. Part of the collection is on display in the Philosophicum building, but most of it languishes in a nondescript gray metal cabinet at the institute.


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY / FOLKLORE

Mobile app looks behind the Iron Curtain

Nineteen students from the Cultural Anthropology / Folklore division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have compiled experiences and stories of contemporary witnesses to the Cold War between East and West for theinternational "Iron Curtain Stories" project. Their interviews and much more have just been made available on the "Memory of Nations" website and a smartphone app.


Professor Carola Lentz (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)ANTHROPOLOGY

Anthropologist from Mainz becomes a Ghanaian chief

It was the first time that the title of "maalu naa" had been awarded in Nandom, in Ghana’s Upper West Region – and it was bestowed on Professor Carola Lentz from the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The title makes her a kind of chief, or, to be more precise, a "development chief" of a district that encompasses some 100 settlements with around 50,000 inhabitants.


Professor Mita Banerjee of the American Studies division speaks about the new 'Life Sciences, Life Writing' research training group at Mainz University. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)RESEARCH TRAINING GROUP

Overcoming barriers in order to scrutinize limits

The new research training group 'Life Sciences, Life Writing: Extreme Experiences of Human Life between Biomedical Explanations and Life Experiences" attempts to bridge the gap between the natural-medical sciences and the humanities. The German Research Foundation is providing almost EUR 2 million to support this unusual project at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU).


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)ORIENTAL STUDIES

The world of Turkic peoples epitomized in books held in Mainz

There is almost no other university that can boast such a treasure: The library for Turkic Studies of the Department of Oriental Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has an enormous variety of works covering the languages and cultures of the Turkic peoples; some 50,000 volumes are available. Junior Professor László Károly knows it well. He guides through the labyrinth of bookcases to where some remarkable volumes are kept.


Professor Scott A. Lukas (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)CIS Visiting Professor

Theme parks in the center of research

Amusement and theme parks are supposed to be fun. These amenities are all about the excitement of roller coasters, about spectacle, and entertainment. That’s it! Is it? American cultural anthropologist Scott A. Lukas has made theme parks his specialty. He is currently at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) as a visiting professor to report on his experiences and to teach, but he also came to learn.


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)UNIVERSITY HISTORY

How the French brough Comparative Literature to Mainz

An institute unique to Germany and treasures from the Mainz University Archive were the two main topics of the lecture evening recently held in the Central Library of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Through this and similar events, the University History Research Association hopes to throw light on the history of the university. The evening commenced with a look at the subject of Comparative Literature.


PRE- AND PROTOHISTORYDr. Sabine Hornung (photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)

Caesar's Gallic Wars come to life

Dr. Sabine Hornung of the Institute of Pre- and Protohistory at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) created quite a stir in the summer of 2012: She had identified the oldest Roman military camp yet to be found in Germany, a huge fort that most likely played an important role in Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. Her announcement attracted a lot of attention, but the archaeologist is having trouble funding her project.


(photo: Uwe Feuerbach)GLOBAL WESTERN

The cowboy travels the world

Through his pioneering project "Global Western – Intercultural Transformations of the American Genre par Excellence", Dr. Thomas Klein of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is scouting uncharted vistas. Many aspects of the Western still remain unexplored. With the project now reaching its conclusion, the cultural studies expert convened a conference, including a preview on future research topics.


Roman coins were often palm-sized. (photo: Peter Pulkowski)COIN COLLECTION

Roman small change was rather big

Although the coin collection of the Department of History's Ancient History division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) fits into a single vault, it still holds quite a few surprises – at least for the layperson. Huge Roman coins sit beside ranks of imperial representations. Alexander the Great and Cleopatra can be admired here in silver, gold, and bronze.


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)HYMNBOOK COLLECTION

4,000 litmus tests from history

The Hymnbook Archive of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) holds perhaps the world's most important collection of utilitarian Christian literature, making it an essential resource for scholars. Hymnbooks reflect history in a unique way. Professor Dr. Hermann Kurzke invites us to take a tour through the centuries.


AFRICAN MUSIC COLLECTION

African music from the basement

There are more than 10,000 recordings stored in the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The African Music Archives (AMA) represents a unique treasure trove of African music. There are old shellac disks from Tanzania, LPs from Mali, and the latest CDs from Senegal. Archive Director Dr. Hauke Dorsch invites visitors on a tour of this diverse aural landscape.


US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Most Germans would vote for Obama

Exactly one week before the final decision is reached in the US presidential election, the relative chances of success of Barack Obama and his Republication opponent, Mitt Romney, were discussed in the largest lecture hall on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Germany would clearly vote for Obama – but what about the Americans?


HISTORIANS CONFERENCE

Of resources, conflicts, and the view of  Europe

3,500 participants, 400 speakers, 99 dedicated helpers on site and two years' preparation time: the 49th German Historikertag (German Historians Conference) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) turned out to be a major event. For four days, one of the largest European conferences for humanities scholars focused on the topic of "Resources – Conflicts" and much more.


(photo: Uwe Feuerbach)IMAGINES III

Ancient mythology conquers modern culture

Dr. Irene Berti has no doubts: "The echoes of antiquity are everywhere as modern culture has stolen a lot from it. The past is still present." The scholars of the IMAGINES research network made this their focus at the "Magic and the Supernatural from the Ancient World" conference at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), where the subjects included sorceresses and zombies, mythical creatures and superheroes.


(illustration/©: Institute of Geography, JGU)MIGRATION SURVEY

No gap between foreigners and Germans

It is no longer possible to clearly differentiate between foreigners and immigrants on the one hand and Germans on the other. These are the preliminary findings of the "Survey of Migration in Mainz" undertaken by the Institute of Geography and the Center for Intercultural Studies (ZIS) at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), in which hundreds of students participated.


(photo: Carola Lentz)BURKINA FASO AND GHANA

Archiving West African settlement history

Anthropologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Goethe University Frankfurt have documented an extensive record of the settlement history of more than 200 villages in Burkina Faso and Ghana that had previously only been handed down in oral form. The researchers' findings have been presented to the National Archives of Burkina Faso where they represent an important contribution to the long-term preservation of this country's intangible cultural heritage.


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)SOCCER AND FANS

Mainz 05 reinvents itself as a carnival club

What form does regional identity take in an increasingly globalized world? This was the subject of the inaugural lecture of cultural anthropologist Dr. Christina Niem. Her talk was entitled "Regional representation or competing regional identities? Two Rhineland-Palatinate Bundesliga soccer teams in comparison", and she used it to provide an analysis of 1. FSV Mainz 05, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, and their fan clubs.


(photo: Peter Pulkowski) CLASSICAL ARCHEOLOGY COLLECTIONS

The action cinema of the ancient world

Powerful ancient masterpieces, detailed paintings on Greek ceramic vessels, and much more are on offer in the cast and original collections of Classical Archaeology division at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Not only teaching staff but also students are involved with the collections. They jointly develop design concepts and organize exhibitions.


(photo: Andreas Linsenmann)HANDBOOK

A state with big differences

The first handbook of the history of Rhineland-Palatinate is now available. There has not been a book like this before and the 40 authors who worked on it have charted new territory. Co-publishers Professor Dr. Michael Kißener, Professor for Contemporary History at Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz (JGU), and Dr. Pia Nordblom, coordinator of the handbook project at JGU, talk about the challenges they faced in the momentous project.


(Foto: Peter Pulkowski)GERMAN ASSOCIATION FOR AMERICAN STUDIES

Siri Hustvedt deplores categorization

She read from her books and tirelessly discussed and debated with experts from various disciplines. The famous US-American author Siri Hustvedt was the star guest of the  59th annual conference of the German Association for American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). However, she was not the only one with something to say to the more than 300 guests from around the world. Seventy-six speakers gave presentations on the conference theme "American Lives."


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION

Bronze head tells a tale of African culture and European plunderers

The Ethnographic Collection of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is tucked away in the basement of the Forum universitatis. The more than 3,200 objects not only tell the stories of foreign cultures but also reveal just as much about the culture of European collectors over the past century. Custodian Dr. Anna-Maria Brandstetter provides insight into this treasure trove.


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)LITERATURE

Writing about 9/11

"Ground Zero Fiction: History, Memory, and Representation in the American 9/11 Novel" is a 500-page analysis of American novels dealing with the events of September 11 written by Birgit Däwes, Junior Professor of North American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The book has been awarded the American Studies Network Book Prize for 2012.


(photo: private)NIGERIA

From war in Biafra to the conflict in the Niger Delta

Professor Edlyne Anugwom of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is working on a project entitled "From Biafra to the Niger Delta Conflict: Memory, Ethnicity, and the State in Nigeria". We asked him to talk about his country, which is suffering not just from the current conflict but also, it seems, from denial of the past as well.


(photo: Peter Pulkowski)NATIVE AND INDIGENOUS STUDIES

Winnetou under scrutiny

Professor Dr. Mita Banerjee's research focuses on indigenous peoples. She studies how Maori, Inuits, Aborigines, and American Indians live in contemporary society. The North American Studies specialist challenges stereotypes and combines diverse academic disciplines in her projects.


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)GENIZA PROJECT WEISENAU

A treasure chest of everyday Jewish life in the 18th century

The geniza of the old synagogue in Weisenau provides an in-depth look at the culture and everyday life of this old Jewish community. Professor Dr. Andreas Lehnardt of the Faculty of Protestant Theology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has spent the last two and a half years carefully combing through this legacy from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the process, some very unique items have been discovered.


(photo: Stefan F. Sämmer)HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS

The landscape of surnames

As Professor of Historical Linguistics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Damaris Nübling's special interest is the development of the German language from its first documented form as Old High German, dating to around 800 AD, to contemporary German. Her current projects are witness to the fact that historical linguistics is actually anything but a drab and dry-as-dust discipline. Currently she is investigating the morphology of surnames in Germany.