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Stefanie Künzel

Research Student, Faculty of Arts

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Research Summary

Current Status

PhD (full-time) - currently registered

Research Topic

The Conceptualization of Epidemic Disease in Anglo-Saxon England

Research Summary

Preceding and during the age of Viking invasion and settlement, i.e. roughly between 550-1200, the populations of the British Isles were haunted by outbreaks of epidemic diseases according to a variety of historiographical and hagiographical sources originating mainly in and Anglo-Saxon England and Ireland. From the perspective of social constructionism, it is the social construct of disease - not the biological reality - that is transmitted in the textual sources. Based on this assumption, I attempt to trace the cultural history of epidemic disease through the lense of cognitive linguistics. Eventually, I would like to show that 1) the Anglo-Saxon's understanding of disease and its causes might have been a lot closer to our own ways of thinking than earlier scholarship would have led to believe. 2) the interpretation of disease can be informative of medieval societies' experience of environmental and socio-historical factors and may even be indicative of real and perceived changes of these factors. 3) the source texts themselves were media in constructing the understanding of what disease is and thus evidence conscious decision-making in the process of communicating disease in context of social, historical, political and religious factors.

Research Supervisors

Primary Funding Source

Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship for Research Excellence (EU)

School of English

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