Germanic Languages | Historical Study of German Literature I
G571 | 26366 | Hildegard Keller
2:30-5:00 / MW
(1st 8 weeks course)
Topic: Book and Body. Topics in German Mysticism in the Middle Ages
Throughout the Middle Ages, body and book, blood and ink, skin and
parchment are interrelated in manifold material and thematic ways. We
will explore them in an intensive reading group. This seminar offers
you a space to explore together manifold means of access to select
texts by the primary authors of German mysticism: Mechthild of
Magdeburg, Master Eckhart, Johannes Tauler and Henry Suso.
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. Our main attention will
be given to sensory (visual, acoustic and tactile) modes of experience
in reception and production in order to see how authors shape their
own and their readers’ practice with both, body and books (texts,
Our goal is to reach a methodically broad knowledge of the texts and
their monastic context, including philological work with the resources
at the Lilly Library at Indiana University and with digital
reproductions of manuscripts in Swiss, German and French libraries.
Each week will include practice in reading the original texts loud
out. Think of these recitations as one of our experiments, even if
(Middle High) German is new land for you. Since the texts themselves
demand a specific and intense reception, one could say that they want
us to dare such reading as an interpretative and aesthetic “pleasure
of the text”.
Since we will read only sections of the above mentioned authors, you
will not have to purchase the books. Prior to the course, you shall be
provided with a reader containing the primary texts in their original
language and in English translation. A copy of this reader will be
made available on the shelves of the library (available for your
reproduction). Please bring your own copy to class. Further reading
(research texts) will be at your disposition during the seminar.
Participation, contributions, attendance
Participation is the life-blood of any seminar. Commit yourself to
conversation, offer thoughtful comments on your readings and on your
classmate’s work and help each other to talk and to be heard.
You are expected to write a 2-3 page paper by midterm and a 7-8 pages
paper by the end of the seminar (or, for those who prefer, a 10-12
pages paper by the end of the seminar); in both cases you should try
to find independently an issue to explore critically; reckon with my
assistance in defining the key questions in your paper. With our first
contact (see below) you will be given further instruction on the paper
and the seminar structure.
Papers 70%; participation, presentation of your work-in-progress,
contributions in class 30 % (this is an approximation).
I plan to set up a mailing list with the enrolled students; a first
contact prior to my arrival at Indiana University will help to
structure our collaboration in advance. For any additional information
prior to this date, I encourage you to browse my website or to contact
me by mail: