Strand Definition – Language and Literature: Germanic
Brief introduction to the strand – why is it important to medievalists?
The strand “Language and Literature: Germanic”, its activities and aims, is largely determined by the geopolitical function of the Holy Roman Empire and its central importance for historical, literary and spiritual movements generated throughout the centuries within its boundaries. Amongst the considerable number of research areas within actual German studies there are especially four major fields of general interest for medievalists:
1) the ‘Origins of Courtliness’ and the flowering of courtly literature in German vernacular, its major themes, its artistic achievements and its modern reception; with a special focus on such authors as Hartmann von Aue, Gottfried von Strassburg, Wolfram von Eschenbach, or such lyric poets as Walther von der Vogelweide, and Oswald von Wolkenstein;
2) the ‘Nibelungen Tradition’, its mythical sources, the medieval heroic epics it generated in German and languages other than German, as well as its impact on the Western World from the heroic to the present age;
3) famous German mystics such as Mechthild von Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, Heinrich Seuse, and their outstanding contribution to reshaping the medieval mind;
4) the outbreak of the Reformation, Martin Luther, his challenge to the unity of the medieval Church as well as to the supremacy of Church Latin, events which, amongst others, marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of a new age in Western history.
Current research trends in German studies of general interest for medievalists include
- relations between text and image, oral and literary culture;
- new approaches to iconography and iconology and their impact on literary analysis;
- perception of sensual and spiritual phenomena in the Middle Ages, its medieval theories, its representation in art and literature and its modern interpretation;
- symbolic communication in medieval life and literature;
- development and application of new narrative theories to medieval epics;
- the creation of new interdisciplinary approaches to medieval literature by combining methods developed in the fields of gender studies, mental history or natural history e.g. with textual analysis;
- to make accessible hitherto unknown or neglected works of German literature especially of the Late Middle Ages;
- to develop new means of evaluating the processes of textual transmission and, in consequence, to elaborate new methods of editing medieval literature.
The papers given in the strand from the beginning to the present total more than 300, including artistic events and round–table discussions. Sessions have covered a wide range of subjects either related or unrelated to the special thematic strand at each Congress.
Medievalists interested in interdisciplinary debates as well as specialists of languages and literatures other than German are most welcome to co–operate.
Sieglinde Hartmann, Member of the Programming Committee
responsible for German Language and Literature as well as Comparative Literature /
verantwortlich für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur des Mittelalters und Vergleichende Literatur des Mittelalters
International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds – Sessions organised by the Oswald von Wolkenstein-Gesellschaft
Review of sessions / Bisher organisierte Sektionen