Researching the cultural history of ice in Slovenia

December 3, 2018
A mountain meadow covered with flowers, with moutains and clouds in the background

In June 2018, Matthew Birkhold, Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, embarked on a month’s long research trip in Slovenia. Birkhold was selected to participate in the Slovene Research Initiative’s 2018 Faculty Exchange, in partnership with the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Read about his experience below in his own words: 

Thanks to the Slovene Research Initiative, I enjoyed a productive and pleasurable month in Ljubljana. My colleagues at the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts were extremely helpful, particularly Drago Kunej, who made me feel right at home. As part of a larger project on the cultural history of ice, I am studying the Triglav glacier in Slovenia. Several members of the Anton Melik Geographical Institute helped me identify useful documents and guided my research down more fruitful avenues. As part of the Visiting Scholar Exchange Program, I was able to access to archival materials, including rare illustrations and postcards, and I was able to learn about historical and contemporary practices firsthand. I conducted interviews across the country, from the coast to the mountains. Travel in and out of Ljubljana was effortless and it was always nice to return to the comfortable housing offered by the SRI. Throughout my stay, I was constantly in awe of the beautiful landscape and generous people. The Slovenes with whom I interacted were among the most affable people I have met, making for an exceptionally congenial visit. In September 2018, I presented a paper at the German Studies Association Conference based on my research in Slovenia. Further, a chapter of my second book project, tentatively titled “Thinking in Ice,” will be based on my time in Slovenia.