Didacticism, Satire, and Song: Understanding the Jena Songbook
30–31 May 2014
The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH)/Somerville College
Didacticism, Satire, and Song: Understanding the Jena Songbook brings together established scholars, early career researchers, and graduate students from across national borders in an interdisciplinary environment, submitting the fourteenth-century Jena Songbook (J) to a wide array of analyses by literary scholars, musicologists, and performers. These analyses will approach J through individual songs or sets of songs, through author corpora, studies of musical or textual typologies, and J’s performative aspects and reception.
The manuscript offers complete musical notation for 91 songs, presenting not just the largest, but the most significant corpus of musically notated medieval German vernacular poetry (Sangspruchdichtung). In the context of its comprehensive restoration in 2007, J was digitised and has since been made freely accessible to scholars online. The restoration works were accompanied by close codicological scrutiny conducted in the framework of a conference jointly organised by philologist Jens Haustein and musicologist Franz Körndle.
The conference’s proceedings were published in German in 2010, and have contributed much to the reassessment of J’s provenance, design, and conception. The recent resurgence of interest in J notwithstanding, a detailed, interdisciplinary study of the manuscript’s contents and their meaning has not been attempted—the manuscript’s most recent complete musico-textual edition dates back over a century (Holz/Saran/Bernoulli, 1901). The Songbook’s diverse material has proven challenging to scholars from otherwise distinct disciplines, each field focusing on aspects of the material most familiar to them. The repertoire’s Middle High German language and the absence of critical English literature on the subject have further meant that the manuscript’s songs have so far largely remained confined to discussion within German-language scholarship.
Didacticism, Satire, and Song hopes to transform this pre-existing research through a joint investigation of the musical and literary syntax of J’s Sprüche in order to address the ethics and aesthetics of medieval (German) song, and to open the field to wider participation from English-based researchers.
The two-day conference will be hosted at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and will include contributions by four established key-note speakers from literary studies and musicology: Prof. Dr Franz Körndle (Augsburg), Prof. Karl Kügle (Utrecht), Prof. Dr Freimut Löser (Augsburg), and Dr Almut Suerbaum (Oxford) as well as by four early career researchers (Dr Henry Hope (University of Oxford), David Hughes (University of Reading), Dr Racha Kirakosian (University of Oxford), and Björn Kuhnicke (Harvard University)). Thanks to the generous support from the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, the conference is also able to a limited number of bursaries to graduate attendees (to cover accommodation costs). All papers will be followed by an extended seminar-style discussion, fostering the establishment of new research questions and interdisciplinary networks. The conference will also include a lecture-recital of songs from J performed at Somerville College chapel by the acclaimed lutenist and singer Marc Lewon, which will be free of charge and open to the public.
Registration is free of charge and now open at:
In order to enable a lively discussion, numbers are strictly limited, and early registration is advisable.
Registration closes on Sunday, 25 May 2014.