Germanic Languages | Historical Study of German Literature I
G571 | 14710 | H. Keller


Topic: Mysticism between 1150 and 1700: A checkered 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.
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 formal linguistic qualities of mystical texts are often
outstanding, penetrating and retain their facsination to this day.
The oral and pastoral dimensions of mystical praxis can also be
understood as providing a seedbed for the development of modern
psychology and psychiatry.
The following perspectives will be at the center of our
investigations:
•	Performance:   Places and times in which the texts were
used; genres; selected manuscripts and their decoration.
•	Metaphorics:  Which types and categories of images did
mystical authors favor, and how do they develop particular concepts
of experience?  Movements such as ascent, and descent; existential
experiences such as hunger, heat, pain, sexuality, birth and death;
abstractions such as ground, peak, spark, desert and ocean.

Format and goals of the course
Students will get the opportunity to act as discussion-leaders and
shape our methodical approach to interpretation (2-3 times). You
will also write two 5-6 page papers (one by mid-term, the other by
the end of the semester).
The final grade will be determined by these weighted factors (this
is an approximation):
Active participation in class based upon your weekly readings 25%;
papers, 50%, discussion-leading 25%.

Required books
Uta Störmer-Caysa: Einführung in die mittelalterliche Mystik.
Stuttgart: Reclam-Verlag 2004 (ISBN: 978-3-15-017646-7).
Meister Eckhart: Deutsche Predigten. Eine Auswahl. Mhd./Nhd. Auf der
Grundlage der
kritischen Werkausgabe und der Reihe ‚Lectura Eckhardi’ hg.,
übersetzt und kommentiert
v. Uta Störmer-Caysa. Stuttgart: Reclam-Verlag 2001 (ISBN: 978-3-15-
018117-1)
Further reading will be at your disposition during the course (on e-
reserve or in a folder at BH).