The Graduate School
The Graduate School on Nominal Modification at Goethe University started in October 2014. It is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). At the moment, it comprises thirteen graduate students and Zheng Shen as postdoctoral fellow.
Description of the Graduate School
The principal goal of the graduate school is to establish a sustainable and internationally visible research platform in the humanities, focusing on nominal modifications with a cross-modular and a cross-linguistic perspective. Within a clearly defined temporal framework, this platform provides young scholars with an optimal research environment for the pursuit of their dissertation topics and the acquisition of professional skills of central relevance to their future careers in academia and beyond.
The research programme of the graduate school covers three major aspects of nominal modification: First, the internal syntactic structure of nominal phrases with regard to synchronic and diachronic diversity, as well as processing and acquisition will be studied, particularly addressing the problem of functional layers within the DP and the elements hosted there. In this regard, the processing and acquisition of complex nominal expressions will also be in the focus of the graduate school. Second, the external structural properties of modified nominal phrases are investigated with an emphasis on the phenomena extraposition, discontinuity and non-locality. Here, the main aim is to explore the factors influencing the choice of alternative constructions by conducting interdisciplinary research in relevant fields including syntax, phonology and pragmatics. The third main research question deals with interpretive aspects of modification, where the compositionality challenge presented by non-locally interpreted modifiers is addressed. Furthermore, differences between various kinds of local modification are investigated; in particular, cognitive explanations for the overall preference of modification by intersection and subsective modification in general will be sought.
Cooperation with UPenn
The graduate programme involves a co-operation with the linguistics department of the University of Pennsylvania. Every year, up to three graduate students may participate in an exchange programme. During their stay abroad, students participate in the graduate programme and research projects of the partner university, supervised by UPenn faculty members. We expect a close collaboration in the core research areas that are represented in both departments: formal semantics, syntax, psycholinguistics, historical linguistics, and phonology. In addition to student mobility, the co-operation will also involve teaching and research stays at the partner university.
Mercator fellows will be integrated into the graduate school and will participate in its activities on an intensive and long-term base. Some of the fellows will be involved in the supervision of the graduate students and be part of their Advisory Board. Every year, at least one teacher from UPenn will be invited to Frankfurt to stay for a few months (between one and four months). This researcher will teach a class, have contact with the students, and participate in their education, also through video conferencing. The Mercator fellowship will be implemented in line with the ‘Strategic Partnership’ that Goethe University has established with Upenn.