University of Innsbruck

History of the Department

compiled by Paul Videsott on the occasion of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the department

With the entry into force of the UOG 2002, all existing organisational units of the University of Innsbruck, i.e. also the Institute of Romance Studies, will continue to be run only provisionally until the new organisational plan comes into force (the provisional head of the Institute is Prof. Heidi Siller-Runggaldier). The Institute itself is assigned to the newly established "Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies". In the SS 2004, over 1000 students took Romance Studies. Several graduates of Innsbruck Romance Studies have achieved a considerable degree of recognition in the fields of science, politics and the media.

2002: Appointment of Heidi Siller-Runggaldier (Linguistics) and Ursula Moser (Literary Studies) to two newly created professorships. This means that the Institute now has a total of five professorships. Heidi Siller-Runggaldier's research focuses on semantics and syntax (especially from a valence-theoretical point of view), grammatography, word formation, language comparison and Romansh (especially its Ladin varieties); Ursula Moser's on recent French literature, the Francophonie of North America and the Caribbean, migration literatures, text and music; in Spanish, early narrative literature, folk narration and realism.

led by Prof. Ursula Mathis-Moser.

led by Prof. Ursula Mathis-Moser.

In the same year, the "Department of Rhaeto-Romance Studies" is founded, headed by Prof. Guntram A. Plangg until SS 2003, then by Prof. Heidi Siller-Runggaldier. In recognition of their services to Romansh, Prof. Heinrich Kuen (Erlangen) was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Innsbruck in 1985 and Dr. Andrea Schorta (Chur) in 1990.

by Helga Zangerle.

by Herbert Frenzel. His book Ariost und die romantische Dichtung (Ariost and Romantic Poetry), published in 1962, is recognised as his doctoral thesis.

by Luis of Villa-Secca.

Austria's annexation by Hitler's Germany. Because of the law "zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums" (for the restoration of the civil service), which was now also in force here, 54 university lecturers were dismissed from their posts in Innsbruck, including Nikolaus Martin, the lecturer for didactics at the Institute for Romance Studies. As a result of the Anschluss confusion, the appointment of Kurt Wais was also suspended; the new university management wanted Mulertt to return to Innsbruck.

offered by Heinrich Kuen, later professor in Erlangen.

Rosa Weichert, Preliminary Studies on the Récits d'un Menestrel de Reims.

The Institute is housed in a flat at Universitätsstraße 7. It had three habilitated staff at its disposal (as well as a lecturer for French): in addition to Gartner and Farinelli, Wolfram von Zingerle (son of the famous Germanist and Tyrolean legend researcher Ignaz von Zingerle), who mainly taught Old French literature. He had habilitated in Vienna in 1884 with a thesis on the Old French prose novel Floris und Liriope and from autumn 1886 onwards gave lectures at the University of Innsbruck at varying intervals, as he was also amanuensis (later scriptor, finally senior librarian) of the university library. The following courses were announced in the course catalogue for the winter semester 1904/05: Gartner: Lesung altfranzösischer Texte (VO 3h), Einführung ins Altprovenzalische (VO 3h), Seminarübung (2h); Farinelli: Petrarca e l'umanesimo in Italia (VO 3h), Il "Cortegiano" e le questioni sulla lingua dibattutesi nel corso de secoli (VO 2h), Alarcon's "Verdad Sospechosa" with text-critical exercises (1h); Bestaux (Lector): Lectures et conversation françaises (2h), Traduction écrite et orale (based on the reading of Der Schwiegersohn des Herrn Poirier) (2h), Viktor [!] Hugo (2h).

This chair emerged from the "Chair of Italian Language and Literature", which had existed since 1816 and whose last holder, Fortunato Demattio, had already held an extended teaching assignment for "Italian Language and Literature and Romance Philology" from 1879. The reasons given for the conversion of the Italian lectureship into a Romance lectureship included the steadily growing number of students and the fact that "in Innsbruck the teaching examination in French [could] not be taken because there was no examiner for modern French language and literature". The Ministry accepted Demattio's and the faculty's proposal, assuming that this would mean the end of the Italianist teaching pulpit. The faculty, on the other hand, insisted that the Romance Chair was a new foundation and that Innsbruck was therefore entitled to two full professorships (one Romance and one Italian). The problems surrounding this second, literary studies-oriented chair would shape the history and activities of Romance studies in Innsbruck for decades (until 1965). The first full professor of Romance Studies was Theodor Gartner (previously professor in Czernowitz), whose research focussed on Romansh and Romanian. Gartner, an academic autodidact, can be regarded as the Austrian forerunner of the structuralist, synchronic linguistic approach. He became famous above all for his study of Romansh, whose fundamental typological unity he (together with G. I. Ascoli) was one of the first to recognise and scientifically describe. On the basis of expert opinions by W. Meyer-Lübke and Gustav Gröber, Jules Cornu (Prague, primo loco ex aequo with Gartner), Heinrich Schneegans (Erlangen) and Matthias Friedwanger (Vienna) were also ranked for this professorship. Gartner's valuable library was purchased for the Institute from his estate in 1926. It contained about 940 titles, of which about 570 were published before 1900 and a great many unique and rare Rhaeto-Romanic works, which are now kept in the university library.

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