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Victoria Mummelthei

Victoria Mummelthei
Image Credit: (c) Vitcoira Mummelthei

Seminar für Semitistik und Arabistik

Arabic Studies

teaching, researching, academic advising, communicating

Deputy academic advisor for the master’s programs Arabic Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East (ISME); deputy academic advisors BA Arabic Studies; study planning;

Office hours

Only by prior appointment via https://calendly.com/mummelthei/meet                                      

Personal room: https://fu-berlin.webex.com/meet/victoria.mummelthei

Office hours are currently held exclusively in my personal cisco webex room (https://fu-berlin.webex.com/meet/victoria.mummelthei) or via phone, unless otherwise agreed.

As a student at Freie Universität Berlin, please use your zedat mail address for communication. 


For orientation: For orientation: I process transfers of ECTS twice a semester: in the winter semester in November and February, in the summer semester in May and July. Please also note that the study and examination offices currently require up to six weeks for processing. 


I answer emails Monday through Thursday 10am-3pm. 


No office hours in March, August, September. 


Aktuelles Vorhaben

META-STRAND: Exploring Death Stranding and Rethinking Knowledge Discourse

Imagine a scholar branching out beyond the familiar forests of philology into unexplored digital wilds. Embarking on my own uncharted passage, my project META-STRAND explores the mainstream video game Death Stranding through a fragmented, living cultural critique. Having long studied Arabic texts, an ongoing intrigue with aquatic metaphors and seascapes flows into this digital territory of Death Stranding with its beaches, isolation, liminal states, metaphysics of life and death. I aim to embrace this interactive cultural artifact to indulge my expanding curiosities of interdisciplinary studies which my training in cultures and languages of the Middle East and paths radiating from there can no longer satisfy. Teaching in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East (ISME) has let me wade into perspectives such as environmental humanities, emotion research, or meta-science and more specifically biopolitics, hypermasculinities, or flexible citizenship, stirring fascination to engage contemporary cultural concepts. Now I want to immerse the approaches I've accrued over years drifting beyond my formal background and into cultural studies with a new medium: gaming. Much remains to be discovered in this process as I chart an unconventional course. I welcome the unpredictable insights that will emerge through an adaptive journey across this provocative piece of culture.

Death Stranding is a cinematic video game created by game auteur Hideo Kojima. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world on the brink of oblivion, where players step into the shoes of Sam Porter Bridges, a courier tasked with reconnecting a fractured society. The game's narrative and mechanics are tightly interwoven, with the act of delivery serving as a metaphor for connection and human relationships. Traversing the vast and perilous landscape demands players to meticulously plan their routes, manage their equipment, and carefully consider the weight of their cargo. Within this unforgiving terrain, players encounter a myriad of challenges, from confronting enigmatic spectral creatures known as "Beached Things" or "BTs" to braving the Timefall, an eerie rain that accelerates the aging process of everything it touches. These elements are consequences of the cataclysmic event called the Death Stranding, which unleashed the return of the deceased as BTs and the enigmatic Timefall from the skies above.

The haunting beauty of the blackened soil, rugged terrains, and moss-covered mountains amplify the sense of desolation and foreboding that envelops the world – even more so with the otherworldly sound textures, oscillating between ambient, orchestral and choral, composed by Ludvig Forssell. Death Stranding's narrative, like a film you play, its mechanics of walking and building structures to aid in deliveries, its setting that merges the real with the surreal, and its philosophical and humanist themes such as isolation and technology, plumb the depths and breadths of cultural examination.

Key aspects of my habilitation project META-STRAND include:

  • Fragmented publication: Rather than one comprehensive work, the project provides a fragmented, meta-critical analysis of Death Stranding, producing a series of distinct analytical pieces. For example, the analysis will be published in pieces like "Timefall and BTs: Symbols of Ecological Distress", "Death Stranding and the Aesthetics of Ruin", "The Emotional Toll of Isolation: Insights from Social Neuroscience", or "The Metaphor of 'Stranding' from Marine Biology to Game Narrative". This format challenges the academic convention of publishing works as cohesive, self-contained wholes and allows the analysis to evolve organically over time.
  • Living publication: The fragmented structure subverts traditional publishing norms that value completeness and linear argumentation. By eschewing a singular narrative in favor of dispersed, iterative publication online like a dynamic database, the project can adapt, grow, and incorporate new perspectives fluidly rather than remaining fixed and restricted. This freedom from conventions of cohesion and completeness allows the analysis to develop more dynamically.
  • Multidisciplinary and multiconceptual analysis: Each fragment offers a unique perspective, weaving together cross-disciplinary theories spanning critical theory, cultural studies, psychology, literary analysis, anthropology and more. For example, theories like ecocriticism, trauma studies, and posthumanism will be integrated to examine topics like landscapes, grief, and human-machine relationships in the game. This provides a richer, more comprehensive analysis.
  • Contemporary insights: In addition to drawing upon the wisdom of renowned scholars such as Foucault, Butler, Spivak, and Bhabha, this project embraces unique and contemporary insights by engaging with the work of various modern thinkers. For example, the exploration of disaster studies and resilience in the context of Death Stranding will be guided by scholars such as Rebecca Solnit, Anthony Oliver-Smith, and Kai Erikson. Or the emotional resonance of Death Stranding will be explored by drawing upon the work of scholars such as Stuart Hall, Ien Ang, and Radha Sarma Hedge, who have made substantial contributions to reception studies, affective engagement, and emotional response.By considering the perspectives of these and other contemporary theorists, the project aims to utilize fresh, modern lenses alongside traditional frameworks to shed new light on the game.
  • Deconstruction of analysis: The project critically examines its own analyses and interpretations, questioning assumptions and biases. For example after an analysis like "The Hero's Journey Reimagined," the project will critically reflect on its own narrative trope examination. Such deconstruction encourages ongoing reflection.
  • References to other games: After an analysis such as "Examining the Portrayal of Grief in Death Stranding", the project will reference games like What Remains of Edith Finch and Spiritfarer not for comparison, but to highlight related concepts and avenues that readers could explore further. This provides contextual grounding while resisting definitive judgments.
  • Didactic aspect: The project serves as a masterclass in critical game analysis, with a goal of instructing readers on theoretical integration and application. For example, one fragment will demonstrate how to interweave narrative theory and game studies by examining the narrative structure of Death Stranding using frameworks like narratology, ludonarrative harmony, and cybertext theory. By moving through the concrete application of these theories to analyze Death Stranding’s narrative approach, this fragment aims to equip readers with skills to blend narrative analysis into game scholarship.
  • Open collaboration: Scholars, gamers, and readers will be invited to contribute perspectives to create a collaborative, evolving document. For example, they may analyze mechanics through a ludology lens, provide reception studies data on player experiences, or critique certain narrative aspects. They could also explore how concepts from the analysis may be re-examined in relation to other games, such as applying the exploration of human-machine relationships to a game like Detroit: Become Human. This collective contribution of insights and analyses from diverse experts and enthusiasts reimagines knowledge production as a participatory, crowdsourced process.

By using a mainstream video game to push boundaries in game studies and cultural analysis, this project reimagines the forms scholarly engagement can take in our networked society. It highlights the potential of participatory, digitally-enabled research methods and unconventional formats. The project's cross-disciplinary perspective and meta-critical stance provide an exemplar for more agile, evolving models of humanities research fit for the 21st century.

Professional Career

Since May 2022 Research associate for the coordination and further development of the master's program Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East (ISME), Department of History and Cultural Studies, Freie Universität Berlin.
Since April 2021 Research associate (postdoc), Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, subject area: Arabic studies; fields of research: modern Arabic literature, literary and translation theory, Arab folklore, digital scholarship, Orientalism.
Winter semester 2021/22 Teaching assignment as part of the introductory and orientation study EinS@FU for a learning workshop on the topic of "Post-Migrant Literature and Arab Diaspora".
June 17, 2020 Dr. Phil. in Arabic Studies; thesis: "The Sea and the Beloved – A corpus-linguistic study of frequencies, keywords, and topics in the poetry of the Syrian writer Nizar Qabbani (1923–1998)" (summa cum laude), supervised by Beatrice Gruendler and Regula Forster.
Winter semester 2020/21 Teaching assignment as part of the introductory and orientation study EinS@FU for a learning workshop on the topic of "Arabs and the Orient in Hollywood". 
2015–2021 Research associate (praedoc), Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, subject area: Arabic studies; fields of research: modern Arabic literature, literary and translation theory, Arab folklore, digital scholarship.
2012–2015 Studies of Arabic language and literature, Kurdish (Northern Kurdish/Kurmancî) language and literature, poetics of translation (courses in frame of August Wilhelm von Schlegel Guest Lectures), Freie Universität Berlin, degree: Master of Arts, thesis: Sadness in the love poetry of Nizar Qabbani
2011–2014 Project assistance, Institute for Kurdish Studies, Berlin, field of work: dictionaries (Central Kurdish/Soranî and Northern Kurdish/Kurmancî)
2012–2014 Student assistant, Institute for Iranian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, area of studies: Kurdish studies
2010–2012 Student assistant, Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, area of studies: ERC-project Rediscovering Theological Rationalism in the Medieval World of Islam, rsearch unit Intellectual History of the Islamicate World (under the direction of Prof. Dr. Sabine Schmidtke)
2008–2012 Studies of Arabic language and literature, Persian and Kurdish (Central Kurdish/Soranî), poetics of translation (courses in frame of August Wilhelm von Schlegel Guest Lectures), Freie Universität Berlin, degree: Bachelor of Arts, thesis: The "uncanny" woman in Surat Yusuf
2005/6 Stay abroad in United Arab Emirates

Academic Administration

Since April 2023 Deputy academic advisors bachelor's program Arabic Studies
Since August 2021 Change Agent in the framework of the project FUtureIT
Since April 2020 Deputy academic advisor master's programme Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East
Since February 2019 Representative of the research associates within the Department Council of the Department of History and Cultural Studies; also deputy representative in the teaching committee
Since July 2018 Member of a working group on the conception of an English-language master's program in Arabic, Iranian, Islamic, Jewish and Semitic Studies as well as Turkology.
Since 2017 Representative of the research associates within the Training Committee of the Department of History and Cultural Studies
2017–2019 Member of  the Digital Humanities working group of the Department of History and Cultural Studies

Since April 2016

Responsible for internet and Facebook pages of Arabic Studies (as well as the affiliated ERC projects between 2018 and 2022)

Since April 2015

Deputy academic advisor master's programme Arabic Studies

Conference and event organisation

Since 2016 regularly June of each year

Planning and coordinating the programme of events for the Seminar for Semitic and Arabic Studies within the framework of the Long Night of Sciences (Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften)

March 2018 Documents and Manuscripts in the Arab-Islamic World, The Seventh International Society of Arabic Papyrology (ISAP) conference, co-organized with the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Humboldt Universität, Papyrus Collection of the Egyptian Museum, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.

Fundings

2023 Funding for the hybrid implementation of the interdisciplinary lecture Memory and Forgetting (in) the Middle East and Beyond (MA ISME) as part of the Hybrid Teaching Network project.
2018 Funding for an innovative teaching project by the SUPPORT für die Lehre of Freie Universität Berlin
Seminar "Thousand and One Nights"
Summer 2018
Co-developed and co-taught with Kathrin Wittler of the Peter Szondi Institute for Comparative Literature, Freie Universität Berlin
50 students from both Arabic Studies and Comparative Literatures
Two integrated poster sessions

 

  • Beyond the Quote: kritische Zitierpraxis für kreative Köpfe (Workshop, Schreibwoche, Winter 2023/2024)
  • Ditch the Dust: Schreiben für Menschen, nicht nur für Leistungspunkte (Workshop, Schreibwoche, Winter 2023/2024)
  • Yalla, Let's Talk About Food! Kulinarische Identitäten im Orient und in Berlin (Seminar, Winter 2023/2024)
  • Biopolitics and Diasbility: Navigating Jasbir K. Puar's "The Right to Maim" in the Middle East (Lektürekurs, Winter 2023/2024)
  • From Campus to Cafés: Writing the Middle East for Your Daily Read (Methodenübung, Winter 2023/24)
  • Lecture Series "Stuying the Middle East" - Memory and Forgetting (Organisation, Vorlesung, Winter 2023/24)
  • Communicating Research (Colloquium, Winter 2023/2024)
  • Ditch the Dust: Schreiben für Menschen, nicht nur für Leistungspunkte (Workshop, Schreibwoche, summer 2023)
  • Eurocentrism and Modernity: Samir Amin's Analyses of the Near East as an Actor in World History (seminar, summer 2023)
  • Communicating Research in ISME (Colloquium, summer 2023)
  • Orient and Oriental Studies between Magic and Criticism: a Critical Introduction to Arabic Studies through the Theories of Edward Said (Seminar, winter 2022/23)
  • Lecture Series "Stuying the Middle East" - Transfers and Translations (Organization, Lecture, winter 2022/23).
  • Against Boring Academic Texts: Methods of Studying the Middle East (Methods Exercise, winter 2022/23)
  • Reading Amia Srinivasan's The Right to Sex (reading course, winter 2022/23)
  • Communicating Research in ISME (Colloquium, winter 2022/23).
  • Introduction to Arabic Studies through Critical Readings from Edward Said to Gayatri Spivak (seminar, winter 2021/22)
  • Postmigrant Literature and the Arab Diaspora (Learning Workshop in the framework of EinS@FU, winter 2021/22)
  • Reading poetry from Syria circa 2011 (reading course, winter 2020/21)
  • Arabs and the Orient in Hollywood (learning workshop as part of EinS@FU, winter 2020/21)
  • Arabic Studies online - how does it work? (advanced seminar, summer 2020)
  • Translating from and into Arabic (practical language exercise, summer 2020)
  • Orient in Film (Seminar, summer 2020)
  • Arabic Studies as Literature, Culture and Linguistics (Colloquium, Summer 2020)
  • Scholarly work in Oriental studies as literature, culture and linguistics (miscellaneous, winter 2019/20)
  • Poetry of Nizar Qabbani (reading course, summer 2019)
  • One Thousand and One Nights (seminar, summer 2018)
  • Introduction to modern Arabic literature: authors - themes - trends (basic course, winter 2017/18)
  • Qur'an and Literary Theory (advanced seminar, summer 2017)
  • Introduction to Semitic/Arabic Studies - Orient - Oriental Studies - Orientalism (seminar, winter 2016/17)
  • Arabic Folklore and Traditions (seminar, summer 2016)
  • Modern Arabic literature and translation studies (seminar, winter 2015/16)
  • The Girls of Riyadh: Femininity, Eroticism, and Taboos in Novels by Saudi Arabian Authors (Seminar, summer 2015)

Supervised theses:

  • Soziolekte der Deutschrap-Szene und arabische Transferenzen: eine linguistische Untersuchung des Musikgenres Deutschrap (bachelor, first supervisor)
  • "Hierarchie entsteht in der Familie": Arabische Erziehungs- & Familienprinzipien als Grundstein für die gesellschaftliche
    Position von Frauen – Ein Abgleich von Bildungsromanen und wissenschaftlicher Literatur (bachelor, first supervisor)
  • Dance and Portrayal of Women in Iranian Cinema and Their Impact on the “Woman, Life, Freedom” Movement (master, first supervisor)

explorative and experiential humanities and cultural studies


Inter- and transdisciplinary focus

  • Environmental Humanities,
  • cognitive linguistics and metaphor and emotion research,
  • Translation studies,
  • Eroticism, sexuality, body, gender, social relations in literature, language, culture,
  • Sociology of science and metascience,
  • Distant Reading and Visualizations of Data. 

Areas of focus within Arabic Studies and at its intersections with other disciplines:

  • Language and Didactics of Arabic Studies,
  • Arabic studies as cultural, literary, and linguistic studies,
  • linguistics of Arabic in Arabic literature,
  • Arabic literature as part of global literature,
  • Literature of the Arab Diaspora,
  • Culture of the Gulf region,
  • Orientalism in literature, music, film, games.

Other areas of interest:

  • writing with Artificial Intelligence (AI),
  • instructional design,
  • curriculum development,
  • academic self-governance and advancement of the academic system,
  • Gamification of and in cultural studies,
  • Science communication,
  • Film Studies,
  • Game Studies,
  • lyrics as literature,
  • political theory,
  • psychology.

Postdoc project (since 2022)

META-STRAND: Exploring Death Stranding and Rethinking Knowledge Discourse

Imagine a scholar branching out beyond the familiar forests of philology into unexplored digital wilds. Embarking on my own uncharted passage, my project META-STRAND explores the mainstream video game Death Stranding through a fragmented, living cultural critique. Having long studied Arabic texts, an ongoing intrigue with aquatic metaphors and seascapes flows into this digital territory of Death Stranding with its beaches, isolation, liminal states, metaphysics of life and death. I aim to embrace this interactive cultural artifact to indulge my expanding curiosities of interdisciplinary studies which my training in cultures and languages of the Middle East and paths radiating from there can no longer satisfy. Teaching in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East (ISME) has let me wade into perspectives such as environmental humanities, emotion research, or meta-science and more specifically biopolitics, hypermasculinities, or flexible citizenship, stirring fascination to engage contemporary cultural concepts. Now I want to immerse the approaches I've accrued over years drifting beyond my formal background and into cultural studies with a new medium: gaming. Much remains to be discovered in this process as I chart an unconventional course. I welcome the unpredictable insights that will emerge through an adaptive journey across this provocative piece of culture.

Death Stranding is a cinematic video game created by game auteur Hideo Kojima. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world on the brink of oblivion, where players step into the shoes of Sam Porter Bridges, a courier tasked with reconnecting a fractured society. The game's narrative and mechanics are tightly interwoven, with the act of delivery serving as a metaphor for connection and human relationships. Traversing the vast and perilous landscape demands players to meticulously plan their routes, manage their equipment, and carefully consider the weight of their cargo. Within this unforgiving terrain, players encounter a myriad of challenges, from confronting enigmatic spectral creatures known as "Beached Things" or "BTs" to braving the Timefall, an eerie rain that accelerates the aging process of everything it touches. These elements are consequences of the cataclysmic event called the Death Stranding, which unleashed the return of the deceased as BTs and the enigmatic Timefall from the skies above.

The haunting beauty of the blackened soil, rugged terrains, and moss-covered mountains amplify the sense of desolation and foreboding that envelops the world – even more so with the otherworldly sound textures, oscillating between ambient, orchestral and choral, composed by Ludvig Forssell. Death Stranding's narrative, like a film you play, its mechanics of walking and building structures to aid in deliveries, its setting that merges the real with the surreal, and its philosophical and humanist themes such as isolation and technology, plumb the depths and breadths of cultural examination.

Key aspects of my habilitation project META-STRAND include:

  • Fragmented publication: Rather than one comprehensive work, the project provides a fragmented, meta-critical analysis of Death Stranding, producing a series of distinct analytical pieces. For example, the analysis will be published in pieces like "Timefall and BTs: Symbols of Ecological Distress", "Death Stranding and the Aesthetics of Ruin", "The Emotional Toll of Isolation: Insights from Social Neuroscience", or "The Metaphor of 'Stranding' from Marine Biology to Game Narrative". This format challenges the academic convention of publishing works as cohesive, self-contained wholes and allows the analysis to evolve organically over time.
  • Living publication: The fragmented structure subverts traditional publishing norms that value completeness and linear argumentation. By eschewing a singular narrative in favor of dispersed, iterative publication online like a dynamic database, the project can adapt, grow, and incorporate new perspectives fluidly rather than remaining fixed and restricted. This freedom from conventions of cohesion and completeness allows the analysis to develop more dynamically.
  • Multidisciplinary and multiconceptual analysis: Each fragment offers a unique perspective, weaving together cross-disciplinary theories spanning critical theory, cultural studies, psychology, literary analysis, anthropology and more. For example, theories like ecocriticism, trauma studies, and posthumanism will be integrated to examine topics like landscapes, grief, and human-machine relationships in the game. This provides a richer, more comprehensive analysis.
  • Contemporary insights: In addition to drawing upon the wisdom of renowned scholars such as Foucault, Butler, Spivak, and Bhabha, this project embraces unique and contemporary insights by engaging with the work of various modern thinkers. For example, the exploration of disaster studies and resilience in the context of Death Stranding will be guided by scholars such as Rebecca Solnit, Anthony Oliver-Smith, and Kai Erikson. Or the emotional resonance of Death Stranding will be explored by drawing upon the work of scholars such as Stuart Hall, Ien Ang, and Radha Sarma Hedge, who have made substantial contributions to reception studies, affective engagement, and emotional response.By considering the perspectives of these and other contemporary theorists, the project aims to utilize fresh, modern lenses alongside traditional frameworks to shed new light on the game.
  • Deconstruction of analysis: The project critically examines its own analyses and interpretations, questioning assumptions and biases. For example after an analysis like "The Hero's Journey Reimagined," the project will critically reflect on its own narrative trope examination. Such deconstruction encourages ongoing reflection.
  • References to other games: After an analysis such as "Examining the Portrayal of Grief in Death Stranding", the project will reference games like What Remains of Edith Finch and Spiritfarer not for comparison, but to highlight related concepts and avenues that readers could explore further. This provides contextual grounding while resisting definitive judgments.
  • Didactic aspect: The project serves as a masterclass in critical game analysis, with a goal of instructing readers on theoretical integration and application. For example, one fragment will demonstrate how to interweave narrative theory and game studies by examining the narrative structure of Death Stranding using frameworks like narratology, ludonarrative harmony, and cybertext theory. By moving through the concrete application of these theories to analyze Death Stranding’s narrative approach, this fragment aims to equip readers with skills to blend narrative analysis into game scholarship.
  • Open collaboration: Scholars, gamers, and readers will be invited to contribute perspectives to create a collaborative, evolving document. For example, they may analyze mechanics through a ludology lens, provide reception studies data on player experiences, or critique certain narrative aspects. They could also explore how concepts from the analysis may be re-examined in relation to other games, such as applying the exploration of human-machine relationships to a game like Detroit: Become Human. This collective contribution of insights and analyses from diverse experts and enthusiasts reimagines knowledge production as a participatory, crowdsourced process.

By using a mainstream video game to push boundaries in game studies and cultural analysis, this project reimagines the forms scholarly engagement can take in our networked society. It highlights the potential of participatory, digitally-enabled research methods and unconventional formats. The project's cross-disciplinary perspective and meta-critical stance provide an exemplar for more agile, evolving models of humanities research fit for the 21st century.

PhD project (published 2021)

http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/refubium-30590

The thesis evolved from exploring a corpus of 1021 poems from 44 volumes of poetry by the Syrian poet and diplomat Nizar Qabbani (1923–1998). Statistical investigations with the corpus analysis tools Voyant and SketchEngine reinforced some of the ‘prejudices’ that both Arab and non-Arab readers and scholars usually harbour towards Qabbani’s texts: That they are mainly about women and love. However, a distant reading using computations of frequencies, statistical keywords and topics yielded an unexpected result: The sea (Arabic al-baḥr) is the most frequently referenced geophysical entity; in 1021 texts, the type al-baḥr ‘the sea’ appears 265 times, and derivatives of √bḥr, whose semantics are mainly related to the sea, 540 times, distributed over 286 of the 1021 texts. The review of these 286 texts revealed that √bḥr-words have a particular effect when they’re used in the microcosm of a love relationship to characterise the addressee – the beloved woman. 75 poems show that √bḥr-words can be employed in three ways to conceptualise the beloved: (1) she’s equated with the sea or marine and maritime entities such as fish and harbours; (2) she has power over the sea, dominates it or even possesses it; (3) her body – especially the eyes – is associated with the sea, or with the marine and maritime. A close reading of 39 of these 75 poems supported by data visualisations with RAWgraphs evidenced that, cognitive-linguistically in the sense of George Lakoff, various paraphiers of the source domain SEA come to effect when conceptualising the beloved as a target domain; most analogies, however, result from sensually perceptible qualities such as the colour of the sea. While in Arab literary discourse the focus is more on the land, Qabbani’s poetry bares a holistic understanding of the sea – including marine flora and fauna, maritime aspects of seafaring, and the seascape – which inspires to read Arabic literature ecocentrically in general and thalassologically in particular.