Department of History

In the early medieval period, not only people travelled and migrated, but so did texts and knowledge. Travelling knowledge has been at the heart of my work in Tübingen, as part of a larger book project. What was known in the early middle ages expanded dramatically in the Carolingian period, and the rich manuscript record that is still extant from that time allows us to study the spread of new texts and new ideas. Questions such as how new ideas travelled from intellectual centers to local, rural areas and found reception there, or how texts from entirely different cultural contexts (such as the pre-Christian classical world) ‘landed’ and found new uses in the Carolingian world  can be approached particularly well through manuscripts that were once used by local priests. In these pastoral compendia, collections of texts have been preserved that showcase what knowledge travelled to local levels of society, thus potentially influencing the lay, illiterate population in the pastor’s care. While these books allow us to map knowledge and (horizontal and vertical) net works of knowledge exchange, they also allow us to re-examine a series of tenacious paradigms that have traditionally served as frames of interpretation for the culture of this time (reform, correctio, renaissance). The Tübingen research group was a fertile, friendly and welcoming place to work on these questions.

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