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English Department

Johanna Vogelsanger

Johanna Vogelsanger, M.A.

  • Teaching and Research Assistant in English Linguistics
  • Assistant Prof. Dr. Olga Timofeeva
+41 44 634 37 53


I received both my BA and MA from the University of Zurich and since 2019 I have been working as a research and teaching assistant at the chair of Prof. Olga Timofeeva.

My PhD project "Survival and Obsolescence in the Middle English Lexicon", supervised by Olga Timofeeva and Louise Sylvester, examines the mechanisms behind large-scale changes in the vocabulary of Middle English (ca. 1150-1500) and seeks to answer the question: how do different factors (such as use in rhyming position, the technicality of its sense(s), or language of origin) influence the survival chances of Middle English words?

I am part of the organising committee of the Junge Zürcher Mediävistik (JZM), a group of doctoral students and postdocs working on the Middle Ages. Twice a semester we hold a symposium where we present and discuss our research, followed by an apéro. Advanced MA students, PhD students, and postdocs based in Switzerland or abroad who are interested in joining us are always welcome!

Since 2019 I have been working as a research assistant on Prof. Moniek Kuijpers'SNF-funded projects  "Mining Goodreads: A text-similarity approach to measure reader absorption" and "Shared Reading in the Age of Digitalization" at the University of Basel's Digital Humanities Lab.




Doctoral Student UZH
Thesis working title: Survival and Obsolescence in the Middle English Lexicon
Supervision: Olga Timofeeva and Louise Sylvester (U of Westminster)

07-12/2023 UZH Doc.Mobility-funded stay at the University of Westminster, London
2020–2022     CAS Hochschuldidaktik
2014–2018   MA UZH
Double Major: English Literature and Linguistics, Medieval Studies
MA thesis: The Prose Chronicle in MS Bodmer 43
08/2015–05/2016   SEMP Exchange at the University of Oslo in the Viking and Medieval Studies master’s programme
2009–2013      BA UZH
Major: English Literature and Linguistics, Minors: Japanese, Computational Linguistics


Research Interests
Old and Middle English, old Germanic languages, Medieval Latin; semantics and the lexicon, language contact, borrowing, word survival and obsolescence, translation and adaptation; manuscript studies, palaeography; corpus linguistics, computer-mediated communication.


Teaching and Supervision
Introduction to Old English (Fall semesters 2019-2022) and Introduction to Middle English (Spring semesters 2019–2024)

BA Seminars: The English Language in its Material Context (Fall 2020) and Historical Corpus Linguistics (Spring 2022)

Colloquium BA Thesis in Linguistics (Spring semesters 2023 and 2024)

I am happy to supervise BA theses in any of the areas listed under “Research Interests”. Feel free to write me an e-mail or come by during office hours: Mondays, 2-4pm, room PET-2.



Vogelsanger, Johanna. 2023. “Survival Factors in the early Middle English Lexicon.” English Language and Linguistics.

Oppliger, Rahel, Olivia Tjon-A-Meeuw and Johanna Vogelsanger. Forthcoming. “Fan Fiction in the Digital Age. Literary and Social Practices.” Variations 27.


Conference Papers and Talks


Presentation of dissertation project and progress at various medieval and linguistics research colloquia: University of Westminster (4 October), University of Glasgow (17 October), Trinity College Dublin (10 November), Cardiff University (21 November)

“Lexical Loss and Continuation in the Transition from Old to Middle English.” Studientage Englisches Mittelalter (SEM) XIII, Munich, 17-18 November (poster presentation).

“The Multilingual Religious Vocabulary of Middle English: Technicality and Survival.” International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL-22), Sheffield, 3-6 July

“The Environments of Disappearing Old English Vocabulary in the Early Middle English Period.” International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England (ISSEME), Manchester, 28-30 June

“Survival and Obsolescence in the Middle English Lexicon.” Doctoral colloquium “LiVe talks”, University of Verona, 14 February.

“The Church and the Manor. Analysis of two semantic domains in Middle English.” Workshop on the Impact of Multilingualism on the Vocabulary and Stylistics of Medieval English, Zurich, 10-11 January (with Gloria Mambelli, University of Verona).

“The religious vocabulary of Middle English: technicality, survival, obsolescence.” International Conference on Middle English (ICOME2022), Glasgow, 22-24 August.
“Rhyming Position as a Factor in the persistence of early Middle English lexis.”
Metre and Rhythm in Medieval and Early Modern English Poetry, Padova, 19-21 May.
“Rhyming Position as a Factor in the Persistence of Early Middle English Lexis.”
Contact in Time and Space (CoTiSp), Bayreuth/online, 13-14 September (invited talk).
“Rhyming Position as a Factor in the Persistence of Early Middle English Lexis.”
International Society for Historical Lexicography and Lexicology (ICHLL11), La Rioja/online, 16-18 June.
“Rhyme as a Factor in Early Middle English Lexical Borrowing.” Historical English Linguistics at Zurich and Beyond (HEL-4), Zurich/online, 30 October.

“Rhyme as a Factor in Early Middle English Lexical Borrowing.” Mittelbausymposium der Jungen Zürcher Mediävistik, Zurich/online, 29 October.

“Formulaic Language in Fan Fiction.” Interdisciplinary Fanfiction Workshop, Zurich, 14-15 February.
“Syntactic changes in a prose adaptation of the metrical Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester.” Historical English Linguistics at Zurich and Beyond (HEL-3), Zurich, 12 October.

“The Chronicle of Robert of Gloucester in Cod. Bodmer 43: a comparison to related versions of the text.” Internationale Nachwuchstagung der VGS, Zurich, 7-8 June (poster presentation).