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Cultural Spheres

Material and immaterial cultural goods shape the self-conception of a given society as well as its practices of communication and reflection. The investigation of (high-)cultural spheres, such as literature, philosophy, music or art has traditionally been central to research in the humanities. In recent years, the focus widened spatially and thematically. New fields such as folk culture and everyday culture, immaterial cultural goods such as oral history and regional cultural traditions, as well as non-European cultural regions increasingly gained attention. Accordingly, the Research Priority Area Cultural Spheres brings together a wide spectrum of disciplines from the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Human Sciences and the Faculty of Catholic Theology.

Through their research activities (e.g. during the course of a PhD-thesis), scientists and students involved in teacher education at JMU also contribute to this Research Priority Area as well as to subject didactics and pedagogy, ranging from linguistic sciences, history and geography to mathematics, computer sciences, natural sciences and pedagogy.     

The Focus Area Education and Communication in a Digital World represents one of the research themes of the Faculty of Human Sciences, which belongs to this Research Priority Area. It combines descriptive, prescriptive-applied and normative-analytical perspectives on digitally-mediated educational and perceptual processes. A special focus lies on the role of education as a central cultural asset in the context of digitalization.

The internationally highly visible scientific achievements of the so-called “small disciplines” underline the multifaceted character of the Research Priority Area Cultural Spheres. Research themes at the Institute for Music Research of the Faculty of Arts for example encompass the Latin music of the Middle Ages, Richard Wagner’s life and activities as well as ethno music and contemporary music. The research area Oriental Studies focuses on Bronze Age Anatolia and the history of religion and literature of Mesopotamia, using innovative and digital methods for the documentation, analysis and editing of cuneiform manuscripts.

At the Institute of Philosophy within the Faculty of Human Sciences, researchers investigate i. a. the cultural interdependence between the Orient and Europe, with a special focus on the philosophical and scientific history of the greek-arabic-latin tradition.

The integration of the Geography Department into the Faculty of Arts at JMU enables unique research into spatially orientated humanities, embedded into the Focus Area Spatial Humanities, Cultural Heritage and Global Change. Here, “Spatial Humanities” is on the one hand very broadly defined as geospatial humanities. On the other hand, a more narrow definition is also taken into account, whereby the digital representation of space stands at the forefront. One example of this is the analysis of literary works from different cultures and eras by using data derived from geographic information systems. Moreover, researchers within this research area study past concepts of urban ways of living in relation to the historic framework of contemporary urban constructs. The research theme “Megacities as Future Living Spaces” combines geographic and linguistic methods with technologies of the “Digital Humanities” to identify dependencies between physical and sociocultural space within urban areas, which with respect to their population are extremely large and diverse.

Under the title “Cultural Heritage”, this Focus Area also encompasses interdisciplinary reflections, identity and theory building, commemorative cultures and performative practices based on discourse analysis and/or post-colonially influenced approaches. Research focuses for example on human-made changes within natural regions, such as Franconia. Another example is the “Cultural Space of Ireland”, which is investigated from a literary, cultural and linguistic perspective. Another aspect of the research within thin Research Area is “Sound”, which is an integral part of our cultural heritage.

Local Self-Governance forms another Focus Area at the Faculty of Arts in cooperation with the Faculty of Human Sciences. Since local self-governance is always present where large groups of humans live together, it can be analyzed across time and space. With the “Multispecies Studies”, researchers from the department of European Ethnology analyze the interaction between humans and other living beings.      

The culture(s) of the western world are profoundly shaped by the Christian religion(s) and their various institutional and regional manifestations. Against this backdrop, academic theology has the chance to rethink and reshape dogmatic, philosophical and ethnic paradigms with the aim of highlighting the rational tenability as well as the substantial and practical relevance of Christian faith in a changing world. JMU’s Faculty of Catholic Theology addresses this challenge, inter alia, by analyzing and developing different ways of modelling the god-world-relation from perspectives of theological history and systematic theology. Investigations into the theological groundwork of autonomous ethics within the context of the Christian faith forms another thematic research focus.

Research topics of the practically orientated subjects of the Faculty of Catholic Theology, which relate to the Research Priority Area Cultural Spheres as well as to the Research Priority Area Institutions, Norms and Behavior, deal with current clerical, legal, social, cultural and religious transformation processes and concomitant questions of pastoral, liturgical and legal developments.