Germanic Languages | Adventure and Risk: Medieval Knights and the Battle between Good and Evil
E103 | 11657 | Keller


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.

In this course, students will learn to read and interpret a medieval
tale through texts and films. In learning about the function of
medieval media (such as story-telling), we will also 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 will meet twice a week for lectures and once for
discussion. Every second week, students will hand in a one-page
written response to a given question. Your responses will form the
framework for the following discussion in which you once will act as
discussion leader. You will also write three 3 page papers on topics
from a list and participate in a project on a topic. The final grade
will be determined by these weighted factors (this is an
approximation): Attendance and active participation in class (lecture
and discussions) 25%; project on a topic (25%), essays, 50%.


List of Books
1.Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan. With the Surviving Fragments of
the 'Tristan of Thomas'. With an introduction by A. T. Hatto (New
York: Penguin Books, 2004). ISBN 0-14-044098-4

2.The Nibelungenlied: Prose Translation by A. T. Hatto (New York:
Penguin Books, 1965). ISBN 0-14-044137-9

3.Hartmann von Aue: Arthurian romances, tales, and lyric poetry: the
complete works of Hartmann von Aue. Translated with commentary by
Frank Tobin, Kim Vivian, Richard H. Lawson (University Park, Pa.,
2001). ISBN 0-271-02112-8