“Poetics of lament”

Dr. Andrea Ghidoni
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Awarded a PRIME scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the medievalist Dr. Andrea Ghidoni from the University of Macerata is working at the Cluster of Excellence on a research project on “Poetics of lament”, which analyzes the literary motif of the lament from a semiological, historical, and anthropological perspective. Dr. Ghidoni was invited by the medieval historian Prof. Dr. Gerd Althoff to the Cluster of Excellence, where he has been since the summer term of 2021.

“In a medieval lament (in Latin, planctus), a mourner laments a deceased person through formulas or conventional gestures that are repeated from case to case”, explains Ghidoni. These include pulling out the deceased’s beard and hair, or listing the deceased’s activities. Although these are traditional literary forms that do not directly reflect real rituals and practices, we can uncover certain anthropological structures.

Medieval lament

Planctus can be found in all cultures of the European Middle Ages, and occurs in medieval Latin and in the various Romance and Germanic languages”, says Ghidoni. “My research aims to identify the main structures of planctus in the different literary genres and linguistic expressions”. Ghidoni searches for common patterns, and analyzes how the literary application of this cultural theme can vary according to context, literary genre, and the people involved in mourning (both mourners and mourned).

The project, entitled “The Funerary Lament in Medieval Literature: Models and Archetypes Between Literature, Religion and Anthropology”, is funded by the DAAD programme “Postdoctoral Researchers International Mobility Experience” (PRIME), which fosters international mobility in the postdoctoral phase by offering temporary positions at German universities. The funding includes a twelve-month phase abroad and a six-month integration phase at a German university. (maz/sca)