Prof. Dr. Martina Stercken

Ehemaliger Fellow am Max-Weber-Kolleg von April bis Juli 2019



  • Vita
  • Since 2009 Professor of Medieval History and Regional Studies/Zurich University
  • Since 2018 Deputy-Director of the Centre for Medial Studies/Zurich University
  • 2005–2017 Deputy-Director of the NCCR Mediality. Historical Perspectives/Zurich University
  • Forschungsprojekt

Urban Spacetime

Urban studies have assumed the power of salvific history to be an important element influencing the medieval notion of towns. Discourses and artifacts reflecting on the celestial Jerusalem have been examined; scholars have investigated how much this idea has influenced town planning; and performative ways of defining the urban space as a religious area and the urban community as a sacral community have been described. My research explores another approach. It aims for a deeper analysis of texts, images, and maps and their ways of mediating temporal and spatial dimensions of towns between the 13th and 16th centuries, so at a time when the urban landscape was being shaped in Europe. Analysing manifold combinations of maps and historiographical texts, this reseach will explore the modes and models which helped to create images of the town as a spatial and historical phenomenon embedded in salvific history. The project focuses on a process consisting of several strands: a gradual change in the actors responsible for inventing tradition from monastic to urban elites; a changing notion of the town’s embeddedness in the history of salvation; the formation of urban historiography as a memory of towns; and the development of individual representations of towns. Based on an approach that emphasises the capacity of cartographical and historiographical tradition to create meaning, it will be argued that the time up to the 16th century can be taken as a period of constant medial experiments in amalgamating representations of space with its historical significance, a situation that was not abruptly changed by technological innovation, new possibilities of dissemination, or the Reformation.

  • Publikationen (Auszug)
  • Martina Stercken, Christian Hesse (Hg.): Kommunale Selbstinszenierung. Städtische Konstellationen zwischen Mittelalter und Neuzeit (Medienwandel–Medienwechsel–Medienwissen), Zürich 2018.
  • Martina Stercken: Mapping Time at the Threshold of Modernity, in: Christian Kiening, Martina Stercken (Eds.): Temporality and Mediality in Late Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Cursor Mundi 32), Turnhout 2018, S. 147–176.
  • Martina Stercken: Spaces for Urban Drama at the threshold between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, in: Jean-Luc Fray, Michel Pauly, Magda Pinhero, Martin Scheutz (Hg.): Urban Spaces and the Complexity of Cities (Städteforschung A 97), Münster 2018, S. 47–62.
  • Martina Stercken, Ute Schneider: Urbanität. Formen der Inszenierung in Texten, Karten, Bildern (Städteforschung 90), Köln/Wien, 2016.
  • Martina Stercken: Städte im Kartenbild. Kartographische Vermittlung politischer Verhältnisse, in: Gerhard Fouquet, Jan Hirschbiegel, Sven Rabeler (Hg.): Residenzstädte der Vormoderne. Umrisse eines europäischen Phänomens, Ostfildern 2016, S. 469–488.
  • Martina Stercken: Town-planning in the 12th and 13th century. Symbolic meaning – pragmatic process, in: Anngret Simms, Howard Clarke (Eds.), Lords and Towns in Medieval Europe, London 2015, S. 198–211.