28. November 2023 | Magazine:

From Richard Wagner to Indiana Jones Andrea Schindler is the new Professor of German Medieval Studies

Tales and songs from the Middle Ages still have a lot to tell us today, says Professor Andrea Schindler. She has been Professor of German Medieval Studies at the Institute of German Studies at Technische Universität Braunschweig since October. As an expert in medieval German language and literature, she researches the roots of our language and the timeless popularity of tales such as the Nibelungen. In this interview, she explains how her passion for the Middle Ages brought her to Braunschweig and what projects she has planned at the university.

Andrea Schindler is the new Professor of German Medieval Studies. Photo credit: Kristina Rottig/TU Braunschweig

Welcome to TU Braunschweig, Professor Schindler! Why did you choose TU Braunschweig?

To be honest, I have to say that (like me) you often don’t have many alternatives, but the university chooses the candidates, but I was very happy to come to Braunschweig! The location is very attractive for me as a Germanist specialising in medieval language and literature, because the city and the state offer numerous points of contact, such as Henry the Lion and his wife Mathilde, through whom there were also close literary contacts with England, or the fictional ancestor Thedel von Wallmoden, on whom I wrote my habilitation thesis; in addition, the university and non-university infrastructure opens up many opportunities for research and teaching.

What exactly do you do in your research? How would you explain your work to someone unfamiliar with the subject?

I research medieval German language and literature. Our language is related to almost all European languages, but also to many non-European languages, and the further back you go, the more obvious this relationship becomes. German, English, French, Polish, but also Kurdish and Hindi have common roots, and discovering them can enhance our understanding of each other. And the medieval tales of King Arthur or the Nibelungs, for example, are still popular and much loved!

Professor Andrea Schindler at the appointment with President Angela Ittel and Professor Eckhart Voigts, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education. Photo credit: Kristina Rottig/TU Braunschweig

What are the main research areas and projects you will be working on at TU Braunschweig?

One of my main areas of research is the study of medieval reception, i.e. the reception of medieval language and literature in modern times up to the present day, as can be found, for example, in Richard Wagner’s operas, but also in films such as “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. In addition to further studies on individual reception phenomena, I would like to create a database that provides an overview of reception products and their research. I would also like to initiate an international collaboration on research into St Oswald of Northumbria, whose stories have been, and to some extent still are, popular in Britain, Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

What motivated you to do research in this area?

Medieval language and literature have fascinated me from the beginning of my studies because they are both foreign and familiar. They belong to us, to our culture and history, and the stories and songs still have a lot to say to us today.

How would you describe your daily work in three key words?

Reading, teaching, writing

Thank you very much!