Material Culture and Mystical Texts
In my research I seek to extend the study of medieval mystical writings from purely textual analysis to an exploration of the materiality of the manuscripts which contain them. Despite the longstanding focus on the transcendent nature of mystical texts, these texts are in fact preoccupied with their status as written objects. My research incorporates methodological debates on material and textual cultures highlighting the materiality of what is most often considered to be highly immaterial. A close look at the texts reveals that the transcendent claim to the mystical union repeatedly refers to the actual material of the words carrying the message, that is to the book itself.
Professor Kirakosian holds a joint appointment at the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. She recently has been awarded the Harvard Medical School Milton Award for her research on Getrude the Great and obtained a Herzog Ernst-Stipendium of the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung and a Gerda Henkel research scholarship for archival research. In 2016-2017 she will be a visiting academic at the University of Oxford, a fellow at the Huntington Library and a Director's Visiting Scholar at Dumbarton Oaks.
She studied German Philology and History in Göttingen (M.A.) and History of Art and Digital Humanities at the École nationale des Chartes in Paris (M.A.). She received her Dr.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where she was a Marie Curie Research Fellow from 2010 to 2013. Before coming to Harvard, she worked as a Lecturer at the Medieval and Modern Languages Faculty Oxford and held a position as Lecturer at Somerville College Oxford. She also covered for the Director of Studies for German at Oriel College Oxford. She enjoyed scholarships among others from the European Commission, the Conseil régional d'Île-de-France, the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, and the German History Society.
Her publications include studies on medieval German mysticism, female sanctity, and medieval law. Her forthcoming book deals with the biography of a thirteenth-century Premonstratensian nun. The next book project explores material culture and mysticism.