Research Unit 5138: Spiritual Intermediality in the Early Modern Period (DFG, first funding period: 2022–2026)

Project TP 2: Early Modern Representations of Love and Baroque Theories of Emblematics

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Stefanie Arend (Uni Rostock); Prof. Dr. Peter Schmidt (UHH)

The project aims at a comparative anlysis of several representations of spiritual love from the 16th and 17th centuries. While thoroughly embedded in the general research perspective of the RU the project’s main focus will lie on the intermedia transformations of the love God Cupid as well as the Heart during this period. Their varying and diverse representations and interpretations in emblematic and similar works of art will be scrutinized against the backdrop of contemporary theories on intermedia relations between text and image, namely the Speculum imaginum veritatis occultae (1650ff.) by Jesuit scholar Jacob Masen.


Prof. Dr. Johann Anselm Steiger

(Department of Protestant Theology, Institute for Church and Dogma History, University of Hamburg)

Principal Investigators:

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Arend (Univ. Rostock), Prof. Dr. Alessandro Bausi (UHH), Prof. Dr. Christine Büchner (Univ. Würzburg), Dr. Janine Droese (EXC „Understanding Written Artefacts“), Prof. Dr. Marc Föcking (UHH), Prof. Dr. Markus Friedrich (UHH), Prof. Dr. Oliver Huck (UHH), Prof. Dr. Bernhard Jahn (UHH), Prof. Dr. Margit Kern (UHH), Prof. Dr. Ivana Rentsch (UHH), Prof. Dr. Susanne Rupp (UHH) und Prof. Dr. Peter Schmidt (UHH)

Applying crucial concepts of intermediat to works, arts and practices from Early Modern times this Research Unit will address a wide number of cultural phenomena that can be analyzed in terms of spiritual intermediality. While continuieties from the Late Middle Ages were confronted with ‚intermedia hypes‘ in the aftermath of the reformation(s), Early Modern spiritual culture was permeated with combinations of media, and practices of symmediality: sacred music in the choir of a richly painted church, combinations of bodies and media in a Catholic procession, or the specirfic interplay of media in sacred drama as well as oratorio. These phenomena are at the center of this first funding period, just like the thorough intermedia analysis of the emblematics of spiritual love, competing media (or their criticism) in Catholic and Protestant devotional practices and mediality in the transfer of hagiographic imagery form Africa to the Americas.

Solid common ground for these multiple perspectives will provide the Unit’s central research question, trying to frame the relation and (sometimes disputed) balance between ‚secular‘ media in all their artificial interplay and the spiritual mediality of salvation, as it is always already the foundation of Early Modern Christian practices embodied in the mediator Christ himself, in the sacraments or within any kind of religious performances.


Prof. Dr. Stefanie Arend
Institute for German Studies
Kröpeliner Straße 57
18057 Rostock

Tel.: +49 381 498 2568
E-Mail: stefanie.arenduni-rostockde