Anita Traninger Receives the Leibniz Prize 2023 from the German Research Foundation

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Researcher at Freie Universität Berlin is one of ten scholars honored with the most important research award in Germany / Winners of the award also receive 2.5 million euros toward their research

Anita Traninger, professor of Romance languages and literatures with a focus on rhetoric at Freie Universität Berlin, has been awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2023 by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The DFG in Bonn announced on Thursday, December 8, 2022, that she had been chosen by the selection committee from among 131 nominees. The DFG’s Leibniz Prize is considered the most important research award in Germany. Each award comes with 2.5 million euros to be used by the recipient to pursue their research. The award ceremony will take place at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities on March 15, 2023.

The DFG highlighted that Anita Traninger is internationally acclaimed for her research in the field of early modern Romance studies. Her work connects literature, rhetoric, the history of knowledge, and the history of media in an innovative manner that opens up new perspectives regarding the dynamics of cultural and knowledge transfer. The DFG writes, "In particular, her understanding of rhetoric as a historically variable ensemble of media-bound practices is groundbreaking in light of the traditional but still widespread notion of rhetoric as a rigid set of rules. Against a background of profound knowledge of historical texts and contexts, Traninger consistently challenges the seemingly fixed epochal boundaries of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early modern period. In her work, teleological models of history are replaced by networks and entanglements; in short, she makes the complexity of historical action in and with language concretely tangible. Traninger is one of the key international figures in Romance studies in a global context, who has succeeded in repositioning the field in an interdisciplinary way."

President of Freie Universität Berlin, Professor Günter M. Ziegler, congratulated Traninger, saying, "Everyone at Freie Universität is delighted that Anita Traninger has received such a prestigious award for her excellent research. This is a great honor for the humanities at our university and for the Cluster of Excellence "Temporal Communities." Professor Traninger’s work covers an extraordinary scope of topics and her vast knowledge of literary and historical sources is supplemented by her innovative mastery of methods and theories. We are thrilled that such an outstanding scholar has received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize 2023 and send our congratulations to Professor Traninger."

Anita Traninger was born in Austria on April 20, 1969. She studied at the University of Vienna from 1987 to 1993 and concluded her studies with a Mag. Phil. in 1994. She received her doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1999 and completed her university professorial teaching qualification (Habilitation) at Freie Universität Berlin in 2010, acquiring her venia legendi (which asserts the holder’s aptitude to teach) in in Romance languages and literatures and comparative literature.

Professor Traninger is one of the two directors of the Cluster of Excellence "Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective." She is a member of many research associations, networks, and research societies, including the Villa Vigoni, Centro Italo-Tedesco, the International Society for the History of Rhetoric, the German Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the German Association for Romance Studies, the Renaissance Society of America, the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies, and the cross-disciplinary research project "Early Modern Keywords: A European Vocabulary of Culture and Society in a Global Frame, 1450-1700."

From 1998 to 2000 Traninger was the head of internal and external communication and public relations at the Austrian Chamber of Tax Advisors and Public Accountants. Between 2000 and 2001 she was a research associate at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and at Boston University, where she was managing director until 2004. She joined Freie Universität Berlin in 2004 and was a research associate at the Institute of Romance Languages and Literatures until 2012. From 2009 to 2012 she was academic coordinator during the preparatory phase of the Collaborative Research Center "Episteme in Motion. Transfer of Knowledge form the Ancient World to the Early Modern Period." As an Einstein Junior Fellow, Traninger was funded by the Einstein Foundation Berlin between 2012 and 2015. From 2014 to 2015 she was a visiting professor of Romance literatures at Freie Universität. In 2015 she was appointed to a professorship of Romance literatures (French and Spanish studies, fixed term). She was appointed professor of Romance literatures with a focus on rhetoric at Freie Universität Berlin in 2018. Traninger has been a full professor of Romance languages and literatures at Freie Universität Berlin since 2021.

Traninger has undertaken research stays and has taught at institutions including the University of Oxford, the University of Zurich, Harvard University, the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Queen’s University of Belfast, and Universidad de Salamanca. She was elected a visiting fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 2022. As a highly respected scholar, Traninger has received prizes such as the Freie Universität Teaching Award (2017) and the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Figdor Award for Linguistics and Literary Studies (2003).

The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is the most important research award in Germany. The Leibniz Program, established in 1985, aims to improve the working conditions of outstanding researchers, expand their research opportunities, relieve them of administrative tasks, and help them employ particularly qualified early career researchers. Prizewinners are first chosen from a slate of nominations put forward by third parties; the joint committee selects the actual prizewinners based on a recommendation from the selection committee for the Leibniz Program.

Over the last thirty-seven years nineteen researchers from Freie Universität Berlin have received the Leibniz Prize.