Since 2014, the Institute has organised the annual Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History. Its aim is to provide early-stage researchers, usually PhD students, from all over the world with a two-week, in-depth introduction to basic approaches and methods of research in legal history.
The Summer Academy consists of two parts. The first part introduces to the study of sources, methodological principles, as well as theoretical models and controversial research debates on basic research fields of legal history. In the second part, the participants discuss the special research theme and develop their own approach to the topic.
Written texts represent the largest part of the sources of legal history. Obviously, they cannot be understood without their respective historical contexts. In recent decades, however, there has been a growing awareness that they must also be read with specific attention to their mediality and their interrelation with visual and oral sources, as well as objects and artefacts. Historians, but also legal theorists, are reflecting more intensively about textuality and normativity, and digital humanities seem to hold great opportunities for legal historical research. What do these developments mean for legal historical research, and its specific task?