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Paths and Works by Michael Kosmeli

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is supporting a new research project by Dr. Dirk Sangmeister at the Gotha Research Centre at the University of Erfurt with funding of around 300,000 euros as part of its focus programme "Transottomanica: Eastern European-Ottoman-Persian Mobility Dynamics". It is entitled "Paths and Works of Michael Kosmeli (1773-1844). A forgotten key figure in the trans-Ottoman corridor and context" and is funded for three years.

In the focus programme conceived and led by historians Stefan Rohdewald (Leipzig), Albrecht Fuess (Marburg) and Stephan Conermann (Bonn), more than a dozen humanities scholars have been working together since 2017 to research Eastern European-Ottoman-Persian mobility dynamics from the early modern period to the 20th century.

The versatile writer, polyglot translator and virtuoso Jew's harp player Kosmeli, who travelled restlessly for decades in the space between Germany and Eastern Europe on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire together with Persia on the other, was acquainted with prominent contemporaries such as Adelbert von Chamisso, Jean Paul and the Orientalist Joseph (von) Hammer(-Purgstall), also told Goethe "much about Constantinople and the Orient" in Jena in 1809, but is today a completely forgotten figure. Sangmeister, whose earlier publications have always revealed his penchant for marginal literary figures of the 18th and 19th centuries, now plans to trace the blown traces of this learned vagabond, who travelled for over a quarter of a century in the space between the Baltic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean, and to write an unknown chapter in the history of knowledge in modern times, especially with a view to the connections between the Occident and the Orient.

The network for research into early modern Oriental studies co-founded by Professor Martin Mulsow at the Gotha Research Centre in 2010 and the rich holdings of the Gotha Research Library, which houses, among other things, the collections assembled by the Oriental traveller Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767-1811) for Duke Emil Leopold August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in Asia Minor and the Middle East, provide the ideal working environment for this project. Sangmeister's research is to culminate in a monograph including an edition of Kosmeli's correspondence as well as a series of accompanying lectures and essays.

More information / Contact:
Dr. Dirk Sangmeister
E-Mail: dirk.sangmeister@uni-erfurt.de