Jutta Eming, Claudia Jarzebowski (Ed.)
Internationales und interdisziplinäres Kolloquium zum Verhältnis von Sprache und Gewalt in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit
1. Edition 2008
Berliner Mittelalter- und Frühneuzeitforschung -
This volume stems from the symposium 'Blutige Worte' (Bloody Words) that was held in September 2006 at the Freie Universität in Berlin and explored the relationship between language and violence in the Middle Ages and early modern era. The starting point of this interdisciplinary seminar was the observation that literary scholars and historians were not only primarily researching the same material, i. e. written, linguistic sources, but worked with similar types of texts and genres too. A comparision of the respective issues, methods and results thus promised to be a fruitful exercise. The relationship between language and violence was placed at the centre of discussions because it poses a particular challenge to the premises of the individual disciplines and is related, among other questions, to the measure of reality, the historical function and the significance that has been allocated to source texts in scientific analysis. By combining what seems to be incompatible, the term 'bloody words' may at first appear paradoxical but within this frame of reference, it invokes the underlying, cross-disciplinary working hypothesis of the symposium, which states that language, in the historical context, was perceived and experienced as violent and that violence could be expressed and represented through language. A further assumption at the outset was that opinions on the performative character of language and violence would vary considerably in the respective disciplines.
The symposium did not disprove these premises but its most valuable contribution was that different forms of the relationship between language and violence suitable for historical analysis were idenitfied, outlined and discussed. Throughout this process it became clear that there was not just one definitive 'historical' or one 'literature' persepective, but rather that different approaches were applied within the disciplines too. The application areas for verbal and physical violence need to be newly differentiated according to the type of text, subject matter and cognitive interest - especially there where they overlap and influence each other.