School of Humanities and Sciences


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  • Johannes Junge Ruhland

    Johannes Junge Ruhland

    Ph.D. Student in French, admitted Autumn 2018

    BioHello!
    I am a scholar of medieval literature in Old French, Old Occitan, and Franco-Italian, and I focus on literature from before c. 1350.
    Throughout my academic trajectory, I have been concerned with interpretive validity, and this concern expresses itself in three outlets. In the field of philology and literary scholarship, I am interested in teasing out the understanding of “text” and “textuality” that underpins critical work, and I am very interested in questioning how textuality functions in a manuscript culture. Related to manuscript culture, I am interested in the affordances of the mobility of manuscripts across time and space, and what they imply for the reception of literature. Thirdly, I am interested in the phenomenon of multi-text manuscripts (MTMs), which peaked between ca. 1250 and 1350. As compilations (of a variety of sorts), MTMs pose intriguing questions about how readers approach them: for individual texts? as totalities? as complex assemblages?
    These first and last lines of inquiry motivate my dissertation work, titled Thought laboratories. Incongruence in vernacular multi-text manuscripts before 1350. In it, I argue that incongruence is a fundamental feature through which medieval book-makers turn MTMs into places for thought. The aim of my study is to demonstrate that incongruence, understood as the dissonance in tone, logic, or theme between two or more texts, was consciously mobilized to direct the attention of an MTM’s readers to issues with which to engage. I also aim to show that this use of incongruence speaks to the literacies of medieval readers in which dialectic, contraries, and paradoxes play a crucial role as instruments of interpretation and thought. “Thought laboratories” designates MTMs that offer a space for readers to critically engage with the issues that they foreground, that direct readers in their engagement, and that enable readers to connect their activity to their lived lives in pointed ways. By making a case for incongruence in MTMs in French, Franco-Italian, and Occitan, I place thought laboratories at the center of medieval vernacular literacies, while displacing the focus from individual texts to the latter’s situated function as instruments of thought.
    Prior to joining the French PhD program at Stanford, I studied French literature at King’s College, London, where I was the recipient of the Sévigné scholarship, and I took a BA in French and in Latin at the University of Geneva.
    One of my favourite aspects of the PhD program is the possibility to teach. I have taught French language (novice through advanced), French literature, and German conversation, with more French literature courses to come. I value improvement over achievement, and I derive great satisfaction from working with my students towards reaching their learning goals. I am a certified tester with ACTFL.
    Please visit my Academia.edu profile (link on the side) for a list of publications, presentations, and creative commons teaching materials, and drop me an email if you would like to discuss any of the above.