Spring 2013

GER G415 Legends over time

Legends make up among the most important narrative materials of the Middle Ages and were more popular than just about any other kind of text. The Latin term ‚legenda‘ means quite simply ‚reading matter‘ and gives an indication of how such texts were employed. Already in the early Middle Ages, legends were disseminated in performative fashion: they were read out loud, sung and even danced. Visual media also played an important role.
In this course, we will become acquainted with German-language legends of the 9th through the 21st century and analyze continuities and discontinuities in both their form and function. Selected images from the Indiana University Art Museum will provide us with an additional point of departure for writing our own legends.
A complementary goal is to develop students' German-language proficiency; hence, the language of instruction will be German.


Ger G306 Swiss Detective Fiction before and after World War II

The course makes students acquainted with two of the greatest Swiss storytellers of the 20th century: Friedrich Glauser (1896-1938) and Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990). The focus will be on their interest for whodunits and detective fiction and also on early filmic adaptations of their stories. The course approaches Glauser‘s life and work, focusing on some shorter pieces of his autobiographical prose, and mainly on his important series of whodunits and their first movie adaptations. With "Sergeant Studer" he shapes his own detective figure, a tough guy with a deeply human core. Friedrich Dürrenmatt, a very prolific playwright and prose author, he also wrote a series of detective stories that he conceived as a complement and even as a "requiem" to the genre.

Additionally, we'll make our own experiments with the genre. Our campus at Bloomington, institutions like the Indiana University Cinema and the Indiana University Art Museum, will provide us with an ideal setting for that. One of the goals of this course is to develop students' German-language proficiency by reading, discussing and writing; hence, the language of instruction will be German.

The course makes students acquainted with two of the greatest Swiss storytellers of the 20th century: Friedrich Glauser (1896-1938) and Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990). The focus will be on their interest for whodunits and detective fiction and also on early filmic adaptations of their stories. The course approaches Glauser‘s life and work, focusing on some shorter pieces of his autobiographical prose, and mainly on his important series of whodunits and their first movie adaptations. With “Sergeant Studer” he shapes his own detective figure, a tough guy with a deeply human core. Friedrich Dürrenmatt, a very prolific playwright and prose author, he also wrote a series of detective stories that he conceived as a complement and even as a “requiem” to the genre.

Additionally, we’ll make our own experiments with the genre. Our campus at Bloomington, institutions like the Indiana University Cinema and the Indiana University Art Museum, will provide us with an ideal setting for that. One of the goals of this course is to develop students’ German-language proficiency by reading, discussing and writing; hence, the language of instruction will be German.

Fall 2012

GER-E311 Hans Staden's "True Story"

From 1492, when Europeans first set foot on Central American soil, the clash between the Old and the New World unfolded, with impact on both sides of the Atlantic. The first map with the imprint "America" on the (by then) fourth continent is German and was produced in 1507 by the German printer Martin Waldseemüller (and therefore is known as the "Waldseemüller-Karte"). It is a kind of paper model meant to be cut out and glued onto a globe.

Nearly forty years later, the German gunner, Hans Staden, who participated in an exploration of the South American coastline, fell captive to the Tupinamba in Brazil, a tribe reputed to be cannibals, and became famous through the story of his survival and liberation (published in Marbach, 1557). When Staden circulated his account some thirty years after the events it described, it was disseminated by the modern means of printing, in an imprint with many woodcuts. The Lilly Library owns one of the precious copies of this first edition (and also the later re-edition with engravings by Theodore de Bry, which gives us the opportunity to study first-hand Staden's narrative of his experience at the hand of cannibals in Brazil and to look into the new communicative possibilities due to the advent of printing.
No doubt the author had been living off the sensational story for years, but how did its fixing in print, let alone its illustration, transform its impact and implications? At issue is not only what Staden related, but how the story was told in one of the most powerful media of mass communication ever invented. Furthermore, it provides us with a segue to the modern interpreter's stance vis à vis the Middle Ages, which in some respects are no less remote from our experience than early colonial Brazil was from his own.
The course will also draw on films (Werner Herzog will be on campus as this Fall's Patten Lecturer) as well as the Bernardo Mendel collection at the Lilly Library. An exhibit prepared by the class will take place at the Lilly Library towards the end of the semester. The course is conducted in English.

GER-G640 Middle High German with the "Gregorius" by Hartmann of Aue

This introduction to Middle High German language, literature, and culture will enable you to read and translate Middle High German texts of the classical period (ca. 1170-1220) and to use the most important instruments for linguistic, literary and cultural historical analysis of the texts. Our main reading will be Hartmann's novel of Gregorius, „the good sinner".
The seminar aims to bring together graduate students who want to get access to medieval language and literary culture and to deepen their knowledge, which will include practice in reading the original texts out loud. The course is conducted in German.

Spring 2012

Ger G571 Representations of the Life of Christ

This seminar engages with a set of themes that are as old as the bible itself: Does the bible need to be explained, not only with the help of words, but also in images and with visual exegesis on stage? Is it even possible to present the life of Jesus in theatrical terms? And can such a staging be considered sacred in any way? What is the status of performative representations of the Passion before (and after) the Reformation?

We will explore these questions with reference to German literature and culture, above all, by dealing, with the efflourescence of spiritual drama in the period between 1150 and 1550, at the center of which stands the life of Christ. We will also explore the reasons for the vehemence with which, at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, reformers rejected this tradition. Taught in German.

Ger E371 / MEST M490: Courtly Epic in French and German

In this course, we will read some of the most famous novels of the Middle Ages by Chrétien de Troyes, Hartmann of Aue, but also the most important heroic epic, the Nibelungen-lied, all as a way of exploring the origins of fictionalizing the reality people lived in at the time. We will also have a close look at manuscripts, wall-paintings, castles and other living places of the time as well as ways of life within the different ranks of society in order to grasp the complexity of a sociocultural fabric of a specific period. Taught in English. Crosslisted with Medieval Studies.

Fall 2011

Ger-G 403: Mermaids

Have you ever paid attention to the logo of Starbucks? To the tiny mermaid - not unlike the ones that populate German literature and culture, the insides and outsides of private houses and even churches throughout the Middle Ages? The motive of a marriage with a pre-Christian water-fairy enjoyed great popularity, not only in the Middle Ages, but also in the literature and music of the modern period. Examples range from such popularizations as Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid to the Walt Disney production of the same tale.
What might, however, seem like a pre-modern or, later, a romantic fairy tale, harbors a complex narrative that engages with not only such burning political and social issues as genealogy and social status in the late Middle Ages, but also demonological issues. They became the focus of new debates in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century medicine as well as in the discourse of witchcraft. The course will be taught in German and examines not only texts but also films and an opera.

Exhibit with student's works at the Lilly Library

MEST M500: Body in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity

The human body is a very special vessel in the Christian world-view precisely because it is considered to be a vessel - on the one hand made of fragile, even futile stuff, on the other hand ennobled by the breath it contains. The human body connects Man and God. Therefore it was confronted with praise as well as loathing. This ambivalence finds its fiercest expression in medieval and early modern sources. An overview of medieval practices and discourses sheds light on the fascinating interconnection between theology and anthropology.
This introduction also has a practical goal, a hands-on approach. In the course of the semester we will access primary materials that are available on campus: manuscripts and prints at the Lilly Library. The seminar aims to bring together advanced students from a variety of fields, including, but not limited to, literature of the European Middle Ages, religion, and the history of art. Taught in English.

Exhibit with student's works at the Lilly Library

 

Spring 2010

Ger G416 Friedrich Glauser (1896-1938)

The seminar presents the possibility to get to know one of the great Swiss storytellers of the 20th century. Friedrich Glauser (1896-1938) left behind a many-sided body of work. Glauser‘s ideal of style is oriented toward people who do not live with books on a day-to-day basis. He also eagerly places marginal figures at the center of his stories. As he himself says: „Can we only speak of fate when it appears to be ironed as flat as a pair of trousers?" The seminar approaches Glauser‘s life and work, focusing on the shorter pieces of prose, stories and autobiographical texts.

Ger E371 Mittelalterliche Romane und die Erfindung des Abenteuers

The "woods of this world" are full of fascinating figures - men and women - who take risks and throw themselves into adventures with an uncertain outcome. Medieval novels reveal their upbringing, their values and motivations and picture them as bright, dark or ambivalent figures. In this course, we will read some of the most famous novels of the Middle Ages. Hence, students will get to know Tristan, Isolde, Siegfried, and other famous knights and ladies. These texts provide fertile ground for the development of Western concepts of risk and adventure, a field in which ideologies of adventure, fulfillment, self-realization and risk-management are staked out. This will also be the field covered by our discussions. Taught in English.

 

Fall 2009

Ger G825 Summits and valleys. German Mysticism for advanced readers

This seminar offers an opportunity to deepen one's knowledge of the chequered landscape of German mysticism between 1150 and 1700. Our readings will focus on specific authors and works, to be determined in collaboration with the participants, depending on their research interests and their goals. Two hands-on workshops at the Lilly Library will be included as well as work on digitized manuscripts online. Proficiency and pedagogy in German are an integral part of the course, which is taught in German.

COLL E103 Abenteuer und Risiko

Die Wälder der mittelalterlichen Romane sind voll von faszinierenden Figuren, die Risiken auf sich nehmen, um "Abenteuer" mit ungewissem Ausgang zu erleben. Die Erzählungen offenbaren die Werte und Motive dieser Figuren und porträtieren sie dementsprechend - bald dunkler, bald heller. Einige von ihnen beginnen erst auf diesem Weg, die Möglichkeiten des menschlichen Daseins zu erkennen. Romane aus dem Mittelalter reflektieren die Entwicklung westlicher Konzepte von Risiko und Abenteuer sehr früh und verbinden sie auch mit Elementen der Persönlichkeitsentwicklung. Die Vorlesung präsentiert nicht allein solche Erzählungen und ihre Helden, sondern erklärt auch die Funktion mittelalterlicher Medien. Storytelling gehört dazu. Unterrichtssprache ist Englisch.

Spring 2009

Ger G464 Legends over time

Legends make up among the most important narrative materials of the Middle Ages and were more popular than just about any other kind of text.  The Latin term 'legenda' means quite simply 'reading matter' and gives an indication of how such texts were employed.  Already in the early Middle Ages, legends were disseminated in performative fashion:  they were read out loud, sung and even danced. Visual media also played an important role.

In this course, we will become acquainted with German-language legends of the ninth through the twenty-first century and analyze continuities and discontinuities in both their form and function.  Selected images from the Indiana University Art Museum will provide us with an additional point of departure. A complementary goal is to develop students' German-language proficiency; hence, the language of instruction will be German.

Ger G571 Mysticism between 1150 and 1700: A chequered literary landscape

Between 1150 and 1700 a variety of texts - Song of Songs commentaries, sermons, didactic dialogues, saints' lives and poems - were created that in combination embody what has come to be called 'German Mysticism'.  This diverse bodies of texts open themselves up to pursuit of one of the basic tenets of mystical discourse, namely that speech and experience are inextricably linked. The formal linguistic qualities of these texts are often outstanding, penetrating and retain their fascination to this day.

German mysticism developed in very different institutional, social and geographic contexts.  Over many centuries, its primary location was the monastery, but by the late Middle Ages it had spread to the urban laity, whether individuals or various groups of greater or lesser coherence. The following perspectives will be at the center of our investigations: Places and times in which the texts were used; genres; selected manuscripts and their decoration; metaphorics and their relationship to mystical experience (ground, peak, spark, desert and ocean). The language of instruction will be German.

Fall 2008

COLL E103 Adventure and Risk: Medieval Knights and the Battle between Good and Evil

The "woods of this world" are full of fascinating figures who take risks and throw themselves into adventures with an uncertain outcome. Medieval tales reveal their values and motives and picture them as bright, dark or ambivalent figures: Knights, sometimes virtuous and brave, sometimes, however, up to no good, deceiving ladies and rivals alike, and sometimes simply inexperienced, dull and only beginning to awaken to the possibilities of being human.

Medieval epic and romance provide fertile ground for the development of Western concepts of risk and adventure, a field in which ideologies of adventure, fulfilment, self-realization and risk-management are staked out (among others Perceval/Parzival, Lancelot, Tristan). In learning about the function of medieval media (such as story-telling), we will cultivate the love of a good tale, at the same time identifying artistic, intellectual and religious themes that are closely linked to modern attempts to pursue happiness and present-day visions of individual and collective life. The course is taught in English.

Ger G403 Erec

Hartmann von Aue wrote the first German novel. Its title-figure is the knight Erec. The French original "Erec et Enide" also included Erec's wife in its title.  What is her role in Hartmann's story? We will look for answers as a means of accessing Hartmann's literary world through careful reading.

The major goal of this course is to introduce students to the rich cultural, historical, literary, and linguistic world of German-speaking countries during the Middle Ages. More concretely, this is a course on Middle High German literature. Anyone without an adequate command of Modern German should not take this course. Each week will include practice in storytelling and reading the original texts out loud. Even if Middle High German represents new territory for you, think of these experiments as an adventure in themselves.  In this and other ways, the seminar will seek to explore the convergence of medieval and modern conceptions and experiences of storytelling. The language of instruction will be German.

Spring 2008

Ger G571 Nibelungenlied

The anonymous Nibelungenlied is the famous Middle High German heroic epic that was written ca. 800 years ago in the south-eastern German, upper Austrian region. It brings together narrative materials from various oral traditions, of which that of the Nibelungen is the most famous.

The history of the Nibelungenlied's reception is closely tied to that of German Nationalism, in that it ostensibly promotes such "German" virtues as honor, dependability and fidelity. The Nibelungenlied, its transmission in manuscripts and in print, its pictorial program, its impact on opera, theater and film offer far more than the glorification of the "German super-man" of the sort Siegfried has long held to be.  The seminar will explore his legacy. The language of instruction will be German.

Ger G640 Gregorius by Hartmann von Aue

This introduction to Middle High German language, literature, and culture will enable you to read and translate Middle High German texts of the classical period and to use the most important instruments for linguistic analysis of the texts. Our close reading is dedicated to a major text of the period 1170-1220: Hartmann's novel of Gregorius, "the good sinner".

The seminar aims to bring together graduate students who want to get access to medieval language and literary culture and to deepen their knowledge. Since we want to discover together the aesthetic and interpretive "pleasure of the text", each week will include practice in reading the original texts loud out. Think of these recitations as one of our experiments of an intense reception, even if (Middle High) German is new land for you.