Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


Introduction to Germanic philology - Introduzione alla filologia germanica
Introduction to Germanic Philology

2019/2020 8
Docente Email Ricevimento studenti
Alessandra Molinari On request (by previous appointment. Email to: alessandra.molinari@uniurb.it)
Didattica in lingue straniere
Insegnamento interamente in lingua straniera Inglese
La didattica è svolta interamente in lingua straniera e l'esame può essere sostenuto in lingua straniera.

Assegnato al Corso di Studio

Lingue e Culture Straniere (L-11)
Giorno Orario Aula
Giorno Orario Aula

Obiettivi Formativi

This course introduces you into the fundamentals of Germanic philology. You will learn what philology is: its objects, aims, and investigation methods. You will learn how to formulate philological questions and how to apply the philological investigation methods autonomously. You will also learn how to transfer the philological mindset, knowledge, competences, and skills to fields of your life that are apparently unrelated to philology, and how the philological mindset can support your self-finding as well as your critical thinking, creativity, social competence, and problem-solving attitudes.

This course also aims to promote your civic consciousness through a deeper awareness of, and respect for, the authenticity of sources as a counterbalance to present-day fake-news tolerance, and as a countermeasure against the growing practice of manipulating sources or the others' utterances within power-dominated political interactions. The respect for the authenticity of sources (regardless of whether one likes or dislikes their contents) is the vital core of the philological mindset.

As for the Old Germanic world and the cultures which originated from it, you will learn where the notion of 'Germanic' comes from, the history of the Germanic languages and cultures  (mainly through the analysis of their written texts), and their relationship to some fundamentals of present-day European culture.


A) GENERAL INTRODUCTION (12 schedule hours)

1) Philology, or "the love of expressed thoughts": its definition, genesis and historical development

2) Philology as the study of written texts and their contexts

3) To "record" from Lat. recordare 'to recall to one's heart': we remember what matters to us

4) The three souls of philology: manuscript studies (with textual criticism), historical linguistics, and hermeneutics

4.1. Manuscript studies as the materiality of written sources (on papyrus, parchment, paper, stone, wood)

4.2. Textual criticism, or how to abstract a text from its material embodiment and transmission. The establishment of a 'critical text'

4.3. Historical linguistics, or the principles of language change 

4.4 Hermeneutics, or the art of understanding through contextualizing

4.5. The 'cognitive' and 'emotional' side of hermeneutics: text analysis and context documentation, and empathy (Einfühlung)

5) What is Germanic philology and where does it come from?

5.1 On the term "Germanic"

5.2. Genesis and development of Germanic philology as a scholarly discipline

5.3. "Germanic" as an essentially linguistic notion

5.4. The instrumentalization of the Germanicist studies for Hitler's and Himmler's racist programs during the Third Reich

5.5. Germanic philology today. 


5.4 Who spoke Old Germanic dialects? A history of the Old Germanic people and their language developments

5.5 Language changes from Proto-Germanic to the single Germanic languages (Part one)

5.6 Common aspects of Old Germanic cultures between orality and literacy

5.7 The migration and post-migration Old Germanic cultures: the East-Germanic, West-Germanic, and North-Germanic language families

5.7.1 Language changes from Proto-Germanic to the single Germanic languages (Part two): common changes within the three main groups

5.7.2 Three selected witnessed languages: Old English, Old High German, Old Norse

C) CASE STUDY (12 schedule hours): the poem Beowulf. Its language, origin, manuscript context; its contents; its place within Early Medieval culture in Europe; its role for the history of Early English studies and medieval philology in Europe and globally; its reception into present-day theatre, comics, and film-making; its involvement into present-day political discourses on racism, pro-"white supremacy" instrumentations, and ideology-driven manipulation of sources.

D) LABORATORIES (12 schedule hours and 6 off-the-schedule hours):

Students should attend at least one of the following labs:

- Textus invisibilis: the Manuscripts and Digital Humanities lab (in English and Italian). In this lab, you will deepen your knowledge on palaeography, codicology, fragmentology, the history of handwritten culture and its relationship to the present-day digital culture. You will mainly work in the Urbino State Archive on real parchment manuscripts with texts in different languages and from different centuries, and on databases produced for the humanities. You will become more aware of the implications of medial revolutions on our daily life as well as the role of mediality for our perception of ourselves and of the world. (Didactic approach: student-centered learning and User Experience as adapted to the aims of higher education). 

Program of the Textus invisibilis lab:

- The world of writing in the Middle Ages: writers, scribes, writing centers; who could read and write? The writing surfaces: wood, wax, stone, papyrus, parchment. Writing on parchment: the construction of a codex; the material and layout features of a codex; text embedment into a codex page; interpunction; medieval Latin scripts. An excursus: non-codex based document formats; non-Latin scripts.

- The world of archives: what is an archive and what is it for? Principles of information management and storage; the State Archive in Urbino; the parchment fonds in the State Archives in Urbino.

- The world of libraries: what is a library and what is it for? Principles of information management and storage; the University Library in Urbino (especially the Fondo Antico); the parchment fragments and the early printed books in the Fondo Antico.

- Fragments and fragmentology: what is a fragment? Fragment types and functions; an attempt at a unifying definition; on the status of fragmentology.

- Working with fragments and with Textus invisibilis. What can we learn from fragments? What can they "tell us"? How can we approach them? Analysis of the databases dealing with fragments as their primary or secondary storage items; analysis of the present-day status of the Textus invisibilis project; participating in the project, in the design and construction of the Textus invisibilis database, and in the design and construction of the Textus invisibilis announcement webpage.

- Handwriting versus keyboard writing, handwritten versus digital competences. Are these opposed or complementary to each other?

- Student democratic participation in university governance: the Student Community lab (in English and Italian). This lab is for students who are aware of the potentialities of the University of Urbino and who would like to participate as proactive and creative partners in the governance of our University together with the other partners (teachers, administrative staff and external stakeholders). You will contribute to creatively develop the potentialities of our University as well as solving our every-day concrete problems. You will learn how to interact with the representatives of the formal governance bodies of Uniurb so that your ideas and proposals may be taken seriously and integrated into the University decision-making agenda, and what role students can play in governance through their representatives. You will deal with the questionaries as forms of governance, and with other informal means of governance. (Didactic approach: design thinking as adapted to the aims of higher education and to organization policies).

The Young Urbino and DATA sustainability ab (in English and Italian): a collaboratory that links the students with the Urbino Municipality, the Contamination Lab and other institutions, to foster the cultural, social and economic well-being of the Urbino territory. If you like living, studying and working in Urbino, and you think your humanistic background might give a creative and substantial contribution to creating new development opportunities for this town and territory, this collaboratory might provide you with the opportunity to help co-build Urbino as the 21th-century sustainable città ideale. The Vice-Mayor of Urbino, arch. Roberto Cioppi, the coordinators of the Contamination Lab, as well as representatives of other institutions of the territory will be participating in the project (Didactic approach: design thinking as adapted to the aims of higher education and of organization policies; interest-driven learning).

Eventuali Propedeuticità

No bridging courses required.

Risultati di Apprendimento (Descrittori di Dublino)

Here is an overview of the Dublin Descriptors for the Bachelor level as they are practiced in this philology course (adapted to philology from the Appendix III, pp. 1-2, to the EHEA Paris 2018 Communiqué):

DD1: acquire (demonstrate) knowledge and understanding in philology. Students learn the principles and practice of philological work.

DD2: apply knowledge and understanding within philology and related fields; basing on knowledge from DD1, demonstrate the competence  to sustain arguments and  solve problems in  other fields. Students learn to apply the principles of philological work on texts from non-Germanic and non-ancient cultures and learn to make connections with academic fields outside philology.

DD3: gather and interpret relevant data within philology to inform judgements that include reflection on relevant social, scientific and ethical issues. Students become aware of the ethical implications of some fundamentals of philology in present-day society: for instance, respect for the authenticity of sources as pursued in philology as a means to detect fake-news and source manipulation in power-led human interactions, or the relevance of the hermeneutical ability to 'understand through contextualizing' as applied in real-life situations besides their philological work.

DD4: can communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences within and outside philology. Philology students acquire high confidence in their own linguistic skills through thorough linguistic analysis of sources; they train their rhetorical skills by analyzing the rhetorical component of texts as well as preparing written and oral presentations. They train these competences both in the regular course and in the labs.

DD5: have developed those learning skills that are necessary for them to continue to undertake further study and undertake investigations also outside philology with a high degree of autonomy. Students learn and train these skills in this philology seminar by designing their own interest-driven examination project.

Materiale Didattico

Il materiale didattico predisposto dal docente in aggiunta ai testi consigliati (come ad esempio diapositive, dispense, esercizi, bibliografia) e le comunicazioni del docente specifiche per l'insegnamento sono reperibili all'interno della piattaforma Moodle › blended.uniurb.it

Attività di Supporto

To support the learning process, the students can train their philological knowledges, competences and skills in the case studies and in the three labs described in Sections C and D of the program. As concerns the Dublin Descriptors, especially DD1 and DD2 are trained in the case studies; all DDs are trained in the Textus invisibilis lab; especially DD3, DD4 and DD5 are trained in the Student democratic participation and Young Urbino lab.

Modalità Didattiche, Obblighi, Testi di Studio e Modalità di Accertamento

Modalità didattiche

The introductory lessons will be led as introductory frontal lessons followed by plenum discussions and training activities based on the principles of student-centered learning. The training activities will be done both in class and at home. The case studies will be conducted according to the principles of student-centered learning. The workshops/labs, too, are based on the principles of student-centered learning and on the principles of design thinking as adapted to the aims of higher education, with work both in class and outside the class.


In order to access the exam as an "attending student" (with the exam program for "attending students"), you must have participated in at least 36 hours out of the 48-hour course schedule. 

Testi di studio

Both attending and non-attending students shall thoroughly prepare the following materials:

1) Green, Dennis H., Language and History in the Early Germanic World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998;

2) Hock, Hans Heinrich, Principles of Historical Linguistics. Second revised and updated edition. Berlin and New York, Mouton de Gruyter, 1991;

In addition to these texts, material dealt with during the course will be uploaded on the moodle platform to be studied during the course and partially as a preparation for the final exam.

Modalità di

1) During the course: TWO WRITTEN TESTS (multiple choice and 'true/false' questions; quantitative assessment methods. Positive results rated in points. The lowest positive score is 18/30; the highest is 30/30 cum laude); exercises in class and at home (qualitative assessment methods. Results to be rated as 'passed / not passed').

2) After the lab: ONE WRITTEN REPORT (qualitative assessment methods. Results to be rated as 'passed / not passed').

3) Final exam: ORAL EXAMINATION ON THREE TOPICS TO BE CHOSEN BY THE STUDENT (qualitative assessment methods. The lowest positive score is 18/30; the highest is 30/30 cum laude).

Informazioni Aggiuntive per Studenti Non Frequentanti

Modalità didattiche



Non-attendant students shall deliver their seminar essays (s. below) at the latest three days before they come to the final examination. Essays shall be sent per email (to alessandra.molinari@uniub.it).

Testi di studio

Both attending and non-attending students shall thoroughly prepare the following materials:

1) Green, Dennis H., Language and History in the Early Germanic World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998;

2) Hock, Hans Heinrich, Principles of Historical Linguistics. Second revised and updated edition. Berlin and New York, Mouton de Gruyter, 1991;

3) further literature (ca. 60 pages) shall be selected by the student together with the teacher to be read as a basis for writing an essay on a topic chosen by the student according to their personal interests within or relating to philology.

In addition to these texts, material dealt with during the course will be uploaded on the moodle platform to be studied during the course and partially as a preparation for the final exam.

Modalità di

You are required to:

1) write one essay (ca. 10-15 pages) on a topic you are interested in. Choose your topic within the thematic range of philology, ask the teacher for confirmation that your topic may be dealt with in the essay, and develop the essay on the basis of literature to be selected together with the teacher (ca. 60 pages). You have to deliver your essay per email to the teacher (alessandra.molinari@uniurb.it) at least three days before the exam date.

2) come to the oral examination. The oral examination consists in three questions (one on your essay, two on themes relating to the course syllabus).

Both points 1 and 2 are assessed with qualitative methods. The results are scored in 1/30 (lowest positive score: 18/30; highest: 30/30 cum laude).


If you want to learn how to write an essay or you already know how but , please do attend the "Seminario Tesi" (a three-hour seminar at the UNIURB CISDEL centre); in any case, do ask the teacher for advise.

« torna indietro Ultimo aggiornamento: 23/09/2020


Questo contenuto ha risposto alla tua domanda?

Il tuo feedback è importante

Raccontaci la tua esperienza e aiutaci a migliorare questa pagina.

Se sei vittima di violenza o stalking chiama il 1522

Il 1522 è un servizio pubblico promosso dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri – Dipartimento per le Pari Opportunità. Il numero, gratuito è attivo 24 h su 24, accoglie con operatrici specializzate le richieste di aiuto e sostegno delle vittime di violenza e stalking.

Posta elettronica certificata



Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo
Via Aurelio Saffi, 2 – 61029 Urbino PU – IT
Partita IVA 00448830414 – Codice Fiscale 82002850418
2022 © Tutti i diritti sono riservati