WORKING GROUP 2 Situations of Material Change

Ansprechpartnerin: Friederike Elias

The workings group’s aim is the careful examination of “situation of material change” from a comparative perspective on selected examples. As a working definition we understand “situations of material change” as the occurrence and/or disappearance of writing materials, technologies, and cultural practices, which lead to a sustainable and lasting transformation (of the material presence of inscribed artefacts in society altogether). Based on the detailed analysis of different kinds of material change, parameter/criteria for the analysis will be defined and tested, and in the long term a model for the explanation/the understanding of material change will be established.

For a start, we focus on the material change situation in which monumental inscriptions in the public sphere disappear in late antiquity, on the transformation from hand writing to printing (considering in particular the early Hebrew printings of the bible), and on the transformation related to the use of new media. We hope to complement this perspective with non-European examples. On the basis of these exemplary cases, an attempt will be made for the development of a common scheme of situations of material change. For the elaboration of a model we developed some provisional criteria, which we will look at more closely regarding the specific change situations. These are materiality, practices, actors, space, reasons, consequences and metatexts. The exemplary analysis of material upheavals takes place on the basis of disparat situations of tradition as well as very different fields of written text. Both aspects have to be factored into the analysis of material changes.