Studying and helping to preserve the cultural human legacy in its numerous manifestations is of central relevance to the humanities. At JMU, this key focus becomes particularly evident in the research conducted at the faculty of Arts, but also the faculties of Catholic Theology and Human Sciences.
JMU prides itself to be the host of not less than six prestigious Academy Projects funded by the Academy Program of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities. Funded for up to 25 years, these long-term projects span a wide spectrum of topics from History to Music and to Literature and Philosophy. Several of the projects also build a bridge between the humanities and the natural sciences (Astronomy, Medicine).
Scholars studying Ancient History and Classical Antiquity join their forces at JMU’s “Altertumswissenschaftliches Zentrum“ (WAZ), while the “Kolleg Mittelalter und frühe Neuzeit“ (mfn) provides an institutional backbone for research activities on the history and culture of medieval and early modern times. Both institutions benefit from the fact that JMU is home to one of Europe’s most important university museums, the Martin von Wagner Museum, which cooperates closely with both WAZ and mfn. It is located at the Würzburg Residence Castle, which itself is an object of study of an Arts History project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
In recent years, Digital Humanities have come to play an increasingly prominent role for research related to cultural heritage. As an area of scholarly activity located at the intersection of Computing, Digital Technologies, and various disciplines of the Humanities, Digital Humanities can help to provide the technical and social infrastructure required to answer a broad palette of research questions in the humanities. Particularly worthy of mention here is the KALLIMACHOS project (funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research), which merges scholars in the humanities, computer scientists and librarians in a regional digital humanities center. Software to support layout recognition and optical character recognition (OCR) of early prints is of great importance in this area. As part of a DFG-funded coordination project on OCR methods, JMU’s Chair for Artificial Intelligence has been active in developing a semi-automatic open-source tool for layout analysis (LAREX). To provide the best possible framework conditions in this emerging research field, a publicly funded research facility (Zentrum für Philologie und Digitalität) is currently under construction.
At JMU, research on Cultural Heritage has many facets and comprises various scales and historical eras: For example, the Chair for Indology and the Institute for Sinology scrutinize the intellectual and cultural history of India and China across various epochs. In contrast, the “Unterfränkisches Dialektinstitut“ (located at the Chair for German Linguistics), focuses on dialects of the region of Lower Franconia. As such, it exemplifies that research on cultural heritage at JMU also comprises analyses dealing with the richness of local and regional culture.