Germanic Languages | Historical Study of German Literature I
G571 | 25717 | H. Keller
5:45-8:15 / T only
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 various narrative
materials, of which that of the Nibelungen is the most famous. The
first part of the epic relates the story of the young Siegfried, who
fights for the treasure of the Nibelungen and who, by virtue of
having bathed in the blood of a dragon, is virtually invulnerable.
He woos the beautiful princess Kriemhild and for a long time lives
among her brothers, the kings of Burgundy. His murder by their heir,
Hagen, prompts Kriemhild’s terrible revenge and thus the demise of
the Burgundians along with it, which is narrated in the second half
of the epic.
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.
Please bring your own copy of the following book to class.
• Reichert, Hermann (Hg.): Das Nibelungenlied. Nach der St.
Galler Handschrift herausgegeben und erläutert. Berlin: de Gruyter
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; 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.
Papers 70%; participation, presentation of your work-in-progress,
contributions in class 30 % (this is an approximation).