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PD Dr. Thomas Wozniak

PD Dr. Thomas Wozniak

Fellow in the project „Epochal Life Worlds: Man, Nature and Technology in Narratives of Crisis and Change“ (June–August 2021)

Short Biography

Thomas Wozniak was born in Quedlinburg and grew up as an active Catholic under the communist regime of the GDR. When the Wall came down he did his civil service instead of joining the army and worked with disabled people in Tabgha/Israel. After returning overland by bike tracing the crusaders he studied history. For the analysis of three late medieval taxation lists, which came to light during renovation work in his father‘s house an old half-timbered building, he earned his M.S. After he completed his dissertation „Quedlinburg in the 14th and 16th Century“ at the University of Cologne in 2009 he worked until 2015 at the University Marburg and finished his habilitation (second book) about „Natural events in Early Middle Ages“ in 2017 in Tübingen. This was followed by professorships (Professurvertretung) in Tuebingen and Munich and a guest lectureship at Weber State University in Ogden/USA.


Interpreting Signs of Nature

All living beings are subject to the global framework conditions. In earlier epochs, when dependencies were even greater, rulers in Europe, as in China, tried to interpret the signs of nature in order to dominate it. Since ancient times, celestial signs have been observed and interpreted as prodigies. Based on some of the 25 categories I developed in my habilitation thesis, I will establish a list of globally observable events as synchronizing markers between Europe and China. In particular, the list of specific observations compiled in the process offers many potential insights for interpreting global events. Some questions are how the rulers in Europe and China remembered previous catastrophes, crises and transformations, how their scholars interpreted such events and what consequences were drawn from them.