The decision to spend time abroad at the University of Freiburg’s Center for Popular Culture and Music (ZPKM) was taken during the development of the project. With its thematic focus, the ZPKM offered the ideal conditions for my project, and its director, Michael Fischer, was open to the idea of locating my project there from the very beginning, for which I am very grateful. One of the central tasks of this research institution is an interdisciplinary cooperation of all disciplines that address popular culture and music.
Freiburg’s specialised collections
The extensive collection of popular songs at the ZPKM in Freiburg was an optimal starting point for my historical media analysis of popular songs used in sound films. My research on the mediatisation of popular film songs also led me to private collections in Freiburg, including the historical record collection of Andreas Schmauder. My visit to his archives housed in a manor house on the wooded fringe of the city, where this passionate archivist keeps over 300,000 records and rare audio treasures, impressed me deeply and spoke to my inner nerd.
Juggling with coronavirus restrictions
As the Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship offered me the opportunity to work in full autonomy and enabled me to be very flexible in scheduling the various project steps and visits to archives in keeping with the prevalent Covid restrictions, my project suffered no delays. In addition to the work setting offered by the University of Freiburg, the music holdings at the Film Archive of the DFF (Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum) in Frankfurt am Main provided an important point of reference for achieving the goals of my project. I was lucky in that I was also able to adapt my research in Frankfurt to the archive’s Covid-related closing times. Personal exchanges and international networking, however, were a good deal more difficult because of the pandemic. But I was still able to plan a conference jointly with colleagues from the Center for Popular Culture and Music, which is scheduled for next spring. Freiburg will, thus, see me again.
A piece of France at the Münstermarkt
When I learned that my project was approved and that I would be working in Freiburg, I had already seen myself on the TGV to Paris, Marseilles or Brittany. Unfortunately, this was not really an option before the advent of the Covid vaccine. But during the lockdown I could at least enjoy a piece of France at the Münstermarkt in Freiburg. The cheese from nearby Alsace, particularly, made me forget a little about the challenges of the situation around me. At the end of the project phase, I was able after all to visit the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris for a few days, which I greatly enjoyed.
I will finish my research project at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, and I already have many plans for this final phase. I am extremely grateful to the Austrian Science Fund FWF for enabling me to do my research so freely and to concentrate completely on achieving the goals of my project. It’s a luxury I hope to enjoy more often in my research career.