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Texttransfer and intertextual references in inscriptions in Medieval and Early Modern Times

When Oct 07, 2024 09:00 AM to
Oct 09, 2024 02:00 PM
Where Saxon Academy for the Sciences and Humanities, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig, Germany
Contact Name Dr. Franz Jäger
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Recording inscriptions in the market church of St. Benedict in Quedlinburg (Germany), Photo: Jens Borchert-Pickenhan, Image: SAW

Call for Papers

The Saxon Academy for the Sciences and Humanities, in partnership with the inter-academy research project Die Deutschen Inschriften des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit, is convening an interdisciplinary conference at the Academy's headquarters in Leipzig. The conference is planned to take place from 7 – 9 October 2024 and will be titled: "Texttransfer and intertextual references in inscriptions in Medieval and Early Modern Times"

Inscriptions are lettering on diverse materials – stone, wood, metal, glass, etc. –, created by artisans and with techniques not associated with writing in scriptoria, chancelleries or printing presses.

Inscriptions are an important component of the written form in medieval and early modern times. They are a sui generis genre of text which has produced its own language and its own formulations. Inscriptions differ from all other text genres in that they divulge their full signification only in conjunction with their material connection with a specific object or place. This aspect must always be considered in a textual analysis.

As constituents of the total written culture of their time, inscriptions stand in dialogue with other text genres which reference or quote them – if only rarely. The use of texts from other genres, i.e. transfer into inscriptions, will be the main focus of the conference. These transferred texts will be referred to as pre-texts in the following. "Pre-text" is an abstracting term which includes any text from another text genre from which the author of an inscription drew. The pre-text may be quoted by, paraphrased by or only indirectly incorporated into an inscription, and the intention and signification of an inscription can often be understood only if the pre-text it references can be determined. Pre-texts may be documents, verse, proverbs, liturgical texts, hymns or other similar texts. Such texts were transferred into inscriptions throughout the period investigated by Die Deutschen Inschriften des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit, from the early Medieval period until the end of the Thirty Years' War; the frequency with which they occurred and their distribution varied considerably over the period, however. Inscriptions incorporating pre-texts are consistently subjects of epigraphic textual analysis, rendering them available as a source to historiographers.

Inscriptions incorporating pre-texts can be investigated from points of reference such as those below, which may form the basis of sections at the conference:

Frequency of text transfer

  • single transfer of a pre-text (e.g. verses, documents)
  • repeated or regular transfer of pre-texts (e.g. Bible verses)
  • permanent adaption of pre-texts (e.g. intercessory formulations from liturgical texts)


Modes of text transfer

  • literal quotation
  • indirect quotation or paraphrase
  • reference or allusion in content and form


With regard to frequency and mode, text transfer can be investigated in terms of

  • time and place
  • semantics of the inscription (e.g. demonstration of humanist erudition in form of antique verse)
  • pragmatics of the inscription (e.g. notice of order by authorities, exertion of law and order in public spaces)


The script and the technique employed on the carrier must be considered, as these are of fundamental consequence to the perception and efficacy of the inscription. The range of methodological and factual approaches that it is hoped will be represented at the conference promise illuminating insights. It is intended that there will also be the opportunity to aggregate individual research findings and to formulate generalisable statements on conditions of reception for pre-texts. Through the medium of inscriptions, the conference hopes to offer insights into text perception and comprehension, into the educational status of commissioners and recipients of inscriptions, and into the intended potency of pre-texts with regard to their permanent publication in the form of publicly observable inscriptions. In addition, the temporal and geographical concentration of certain pre-texts may give insights into their significance, both in their time and outside it. It is also hoped that overlaps in the conference programme with the concept of intertextuality developed in literary studies will prove fruitful.

The conference is for epigraphists and also anyone working at the intersection of pre-texts and inscriptions in their discipline, be it regional, ecclesiastical, architectural, art or language history. Potential contributors are invited to submit a topic proposal with a three-line abstract by 1 March 2024. It is planned to allocate each presentation a ca. 30-minute slot. Publication of the conference proceedings is also planned.


Dr. Franz Jäger
Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig
Forschungsstelle "Die Deutschen Inschriften"
Friedemann-Bach-Platz 6

06108 Halle (Saale)