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Johannes Depnering

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

I am the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Religious Writing in the German Middle Ages and based at Oriel College. I have written my doctoral thesis at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, in which I aim to increase our understanding of the Franciscan preacher Berthold von Regensburg through analysis of late medieval sermon manuscripts. I previously studied at the Universities of Jena, Zurich, Tübingen and at King’s College, London, and have a Magister Artium (MA) in Medieval German, German Linguistics and Psychology from the University of Tübingen. At TORCH, I co-convene the Medieval and Early Modern Mysticism network.

My current project on fourteenth-century mystical writing explores tactile experiences and physical pain in the accounts of the lives of three German women: Elsbeth von Oye, Margareta Ebner and Dorothea von Montau. In my research, I combine a physiological and psychological approach with codicological and literary analysis. Drawing on research that has been conducted on pain at the interface of biology and culture, neuropsychology and religion, I aim to gain a deeper insight into the concept of touch and the potential of physical pain in these mystical texts. Furthermore, I am working on a reassessment of Zurich, Central Library, Ms. Rh. 159 – in previous scholarship considered to be Elsbeth’s autograph – which will provide a better understanding of the process of writing about, and dealing with, mystical and traumatic experiences.