Nr. 33, Spring 2012

Dear Colleagues,

The Society for Medieval Germanic Studies is again pleased to sponsor five sessions at the 47th Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo this May 2012. We wish to thank Evelyn Meyer (Saint Louis University) and Alexander Sager (University of Georgia, Athens), for organizing an exciting program for us this year at Kalamazoo. After the final SMGS session on Sunday morning, there will be a brief business meeting. If you have a theme for a SMGS session for next year, please let us know at that time.


Table of Contents

SMGS Sessions at Kalamazoo 2012

New Books Roundtable

The Sidney M. Johnson Award for 2012

New Books Received for SMGS Review

SMGS Review

SMGS Sessions at Kalamazoo 2012

Session I Thursday 7:30 p.m. Schneider 1280

“Around and About the German Grail”–_hôher êren pflegen_: A Session in Honor of Francis G. Gentry

Presider: Ernst Ralf Hintz (Truman State University)

“Vindicating the Traitor: The Restoration of Gawain as Grail Hero in Heinrich von dem Türlin’s The Crown

Lauren McConnell (Independent Scholar)

“wêmich: Oblique Subjects in Middle High German”

Stephen Mark Carey (Universitetet i Bergen)

Session II Saturday 1:30 p.m. Schneider 1145

“Outsiders and Others in German Arthurian Romance”

Presider: Rasma Lazda (The University of Alabama)

“Being Human: Monstrosity and Alterity in Text and Image in the 13th-Century Arthurian Romance Wigamur

Jon Sherman (Northern Michigan University)

“Fluctuating Beauty: Sigune, Cundrie and Repanse in Text and Image in Wolfram’s Parzival

Evelyn Meyer (Saint Louis University)

“The young princess in her exile: Sigune’s cell in Albrecht’s Jüngerer Titurel.”

Alex Sager (University of Georgia, Athens)

Session III Sunday 8:30 a.m. Valley II 205

Love and Compulsion in Medieval German Literature

Presider: Scott E. Pincikowski  (Hood College)

“The Language of Rape in Carmina Burana 185”

Kathryn Malczyk (University of Pennsylvania)

“Law in the Battle of the Sexes: The Function of Legal Discourse in Der Stricker’s Mären Das heiße Eisen and Das erzwungene Gelübde

Mary Marschall Campbell (University of New Hampshire/Princeton University)

“Ein fewr in der Welt fert”: Lovesickness in Mauritius von Craûn

Marian Polhill (University of Puerto Rico-Recinto de Río Piedras)

Session IV Sunday 10:30 a.m. Valley II 204

Narrative Strategies in Medieval German Literature

Presider: Marian Polhill (University of Puerto Rico-Recinto de Río)

Johann Schiltberger’s Reisetagebuch: Narrating from Prisoner to Mercenary

Rasma Lazda-Cazers (University of Alabama)

“No Passion for Affect? The Missing Crucifixion Scene in the Künzelsau Corpus Christi Play”

Glenn Ehrstine (University of Iowa)

New Books Roundtable


Stephanie Cain Van D’Elden (University of Minnesota) speaks about her forthcoming book: Tristan and Isolde: Medieval Illustrations of the Verse Romances. SMGS looks forward to seeing you at this well-received and enjoyable session at Kalamazoo in 2012.

The Sidney M. Johnson Award for 2012

SMGS is delighted to announce The Sidney M. Johnson Award for the best abstract submitted to SMGS from a graduate student. SMGS is presenting the award this year to two recipients, whose abstracts were judged to be of equal merit. SMGS congratulates Mary Marshall Campbell (University of New Hampshire/Princeton University) and Kathryn Malczyk (University of Pennsylvania). We are looking forward to hearing their presentations in SMGS Sessions

New Books Received for SMGS Review

C. Stephen Jaeger, Enchantment

On Charisma and the Sublime in the Arts of the West

University of Pennsylvania Press ISBN 978-0-8122-4329-1

SMGS Reviews

Sigrid Rachoinig, Wir tun kund und lassen dich wissen: Briefe, Urkunden und akten als spätmittelalterliche Grundformen schriftlicher Kommunikation, dargestellt anhand der Lebenszeugnisse Oswalds von Wolkenstein. Mediaevistik zwischen Forschung, Lehre und Öffentlichkeit, 2 (Frankfurt a. M.,Berlin, et al.: Peter Lang, 2009), 319 pp.

In her study, based on her Graz doctoral dissertation from 2007, Rachoinig plunges into the vast corpus of documents/records produced by or for Oswald von Wolkenstein (1376/77-1445), who was one of the most important late-medieval German poets, living between many cultural worlds and languages, and who rose to considerable political and economic power in southern Tyrol during the end of his lifetime. As a consequence of his heavy involvement in politics, he produced a huge number of documents, many private, others public, which allow us to draw up a pretty precise biography of him (Anton Schwob, Oswald von Wolkenstein, 2nd ed. 1977). Rachoinig at first does that as well, but her purpose is a sociolinguistic one in that she wants to describe the vast number of different text types into which this Oswald corpus can be divided. In order to prepare herself for this task, she examines the theoretical implications of written communication, and illustrates those with specific references to Middle High German verbs used in the correspondence or exchange of records signaling individual strategies and intentions. I welcome her efforts to present to us once again the basic structural elements of a medieval letter (salutatio, exordium, narratio, petitio, and conclusio), which she discusses in detail, along with those other elements that were also essential for the composition of a letter.

The next section deals with official documents, or charters (Urkunden), which Rachoinig at first describes in generic terms, and then discusses with respect to those contained in the Oswald archive. The range of genres is astounding, which indicates once more how much this poet was involved in many different business dealings during his lifetime. The third section examines those documents that belong to official charters, but are neither letters nor documents in the narrow sense of the word. These Akten (records) comprise all kinds of written statements reporting of many different sorts of business transactions, but without having an official function or relevance, such as a protocol. The author provides a copy of one such a document, but does not have many examples available. At last, she analyzes the various styles used by Oswald and his scribes, and thus produces an excellent case study of late-medieval political communication, well documented and meticulously investigated.

The book concludes with an extensive bibliography, a list of all documents studied, a bibliography of additional studies in a more general sense, and tables for specific forms of address in the documents and for historical terms of concrete types of documents. Both historians and literary historians will profit from this careful analysis of a huge body of archival material pertaining to this important late-medieval German poet.

Albrecht Classen (University of Arizona)


Ann Marie Rasmussen (Duke University) and Sarah Westphal-Wihl (Washington University in St. Louis), Ladies, Whores, and Holy Women: A Sourcebook in Courtly, Religious, and Urban Cultures of Late Medieval Germany, In: Medieval German Texts in Bilingual Editions, V, Introductions, Translations, and Notes by Ann Marie Rasmussen and Sarah Westphal-Wihl. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications 2010. 155 pp. ISBN: 978-3-1-58044-151-3.

Ladies, Whores, and Holy Women is, as stated in the second half of the title, primarily a sourcebook of late medieval German texts about women and the courtly, religious and urban cultures they lived in, which shaped their lives and which they in return shaped as well. This book contains seven texts from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and presents these in side-by-side facing pages in the original and English translation. The texts range from fictional texts, to religious and legal ones, and a woman’s book inventory list. This is the first time these texts have been published together, though some of them were published previously. Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl introduce each individual text in its manuscript context along with information about how widely known the text was, and who may have read it. Furthermore, the authors provide historical context about themes raised by the text, as well as geographic matters pertinent to it, if such information is available, e.g. the social, political, religious and economic changes taking place in fifteenth-century German-speaking lands that serve as the background for all of these texts, as well as the large appeal and influence of each of these texts as evidenced in the many surviving manuscript copies of them. Furthermore, in the introduction the authors address the significance of learned women in the development of medieval Christian piety, mystical exercises, Meister Eckhart’s anti-hierarchical teachings and Beguines as key influences on the texts in Chapter 2 in which women serve as spiritual guides to clerics. In the final section of the book, the authors point out the distinctions made between free-lance and professional prostitutes and their different legal position, working and economic conditions, and how or why the city tolerated them. These introductory remarks both for the book in general and each text individually provide good context and necessary background information, as well as insights into what Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl think about how the perceptions of women in and through these texts contributed to late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries’ discourses on gender, sexuality and class.

The primary focus of this sourcebook is to make these texts available to a larger academic audience and to “advance our understanding of gender, sexuality, and class in the late medieval world” (1). The book first presents three texts in chapters one and two that attest to the popularity of “convention of the learned spiritual woman” (2): Die Beichte einer Frau referenced in the manuscript as das puolschaft nit sünd sey! Ain hübsche peicht (Chapter 1); Schwester Katrei, referenced in the manuscript as Dis is von der bichte tochter, and Die Frau von ein-und-zwanzig Jahren (Version B) (Chapter 2). In Die Beichte einer Frau, the woman convinces her confessor that her love affair with a young man is not sinful, a conversation which is overheard by a male narrator, who unlike the confessor is not won over by the lady’s reasoning. In Schwester Katrei we encounter a pious woman who is seeking spiritual guidance and enlightenment from a holy man (assumed to be Meister Eckhardt) and in the end exceeds him in spiritual knowledge and experiences and guides him in his own conversion. Likewise, in Die Frau von ein-und-zwanzig Jahren (Version B) we encounter a young woman seeking spiritual guidance from a Doctor of Divinity, who initially deems her unworthy because she is a woman. However, after making inquiries into her devotional practices, he admits that despite dedicating his entire life to a spiritual one, he has not been able to attain such perfection of devotion as she has, she who primarily is a wife, mother and mistress of her household. Despite her busy secular life she achieves spiritual union with Christ in her devotional practices. By her example, she, like Sister Catherine, becomes his teacher.

Chapter 3 contains the Bücherverzeichnis der Elisabeth von Volkenstorff, a noblewoman who lived in Upper Austria in the first half of the fifteenth century, who herself made this book inventory (97) which contains forty-four separate entries, including many religious books, compendia presenting entire areas of knowledge, books with practical knowledge, and much literature, both the medieval classics and “modern” literature in German of her time such as Die Beichte einer Frau and Stiefmutter and Tochter both contained in this volume (for more, see 98-103). In that sense, Chapter 3 forms a bridge between the first part of the book which contains texts dealing with spiritual matters, and the final part of the book which deals with whoring. All of these texts were read by noble women, as is attested by Elisabeth von Volkenstorff’s book inventory.

Chapter 4 presents two redactions of the text Stiefmutter und Tochter referenced in the manuscript as Wie ain muoter ir dochter lernet puolen, the Augsburg and the Nuremberg redactions. In each version, the mother (or stepmother) instructs the adolescent daughter in the ways of attracting men and making the greatest financial benefit out of seducing and pleasuring them. Both women are single and represent the largest portion of society at the time, the urban and rural poor. As noted by Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl, in the Nuremberg redaction the narrative is streamlined, shortened, but a few obscene passages are added. It does not end with the eavesdropping narrator’s comment on loose women, as he does in the Augsburg redaction, but with a summarizing speech by the mother to her daughter, which she refers to as the daughter’s dowry (see 112).

While the text in Chapter 4 is fictional, that in Chapter 5, Ordnung der gemeinen Weiber in den Frauenhäusern, presents the Nuremberg city ordinance from around 1470 regulating brothels in the city. It accepts brothels as a “necessary evil” and in line withNuremberg’s status as an economically prosperous and free city state, it treats brothels as businesses and concerns itself with both the rights of brothel owners and the prostitutes working in them, and with maintaining peace and order in the city.

While Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl clearly selected these texts to present us with a wide variety of styles of texts and diverse topics from which to glean insights into the courtly, religious and urban cultures of late medieval Germany, nonetheless, I find myself asking how these particular texts were chosen and at the exclusion of which other texts. How many other texts of this kind exist from this time period? Granted, while no volume can include all possible texts, some commentary on how and why these seven texts were chosen would have been helpful along with some commentary of other texts dealing with similar subject matters that were not included. While the historical and manuscript contexts of these texts is very well established by Rasmussen and Westphal-Whil, their place in the larger literary production of the late German Middle Ages remains largely unaddressed.

I especially recommend Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl for not superimposing a standardized Middle High German onto the edited texts, as is still a very common practice in our field. They clearly state which editorial changes they made to the text, minimal though they are, primarily bringing consistency into the vocalic use of v as u, consonantal u as v, vocalic j as i, tremas over vowels as the appropriate vowel + e, and expanding abbreviations (see 5-6). Furthermore, they maintain the dialectal features of the original text, and with it the text’s linguistic authenticity, which will enable scholars to study theses texts not only for content, but linguistically as well.

I also applaud Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl for their translations, which are very readable and smooth, not at all stiff by attempting to follow the original text too closely, nor too free (as some Übertragungen can be) that they do not do the original justice. While the translations are very contemporary in their renditions of medieval idiomatic expressions, they do convey the meaning, humor and sense of the original well. This is not a stilted translation, and instead Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl strike the translation’s linguistic balance well between the medieval original and the modern text.

As I was reading through these primary texts, ideas for research projects formed constantly and immediately in my mind, ideas for comparative studies between the classical Middle High German canon and these less known and therefore less studied texts about and by women presented in this volume. I assume this will be quite similar for other scholars as well. These primary texts provide us with a wealth of new information about life in late medieval Germany, about perceptions of gender, class and sexuality, about theological matters, women’s influence on spiritual development and the development of Christian thought, the regulation of the female body, and this list could go on further, but it becomes clear that the scholarship that will come into existence because of these texts will be rich and diverse. Making these texts available in their original language with side-by-side English translations is a significant contribution not only to the field of medieval German(ic) Studies, but to medieval research on the discourse of the intersection of gender, sexuality and class more broadly. As stated by the authors themselves, this volume fills a gap in our discipline. “Adding these German witnesses to the burgeoning mass of material from England and France available to scholars and students will enrich, and perhaps even change, our understanding of the development of late medieval notions of gender and class in Europe. In this international context, the texts in this volume support the hypothesis that there is no single, European, monolithic narrative about gender and class in the late medieval world. Rather, what we see is a story of enormous regional diversity and variation, a story whose complexities are only now being studied, …” (5). It will be exciting to see what new scholarship is forthcoming that will address these complexities, both in their German and their larger medieval contexts, based on the edition and translations published in this volume. Making these texts available is a significant contribution to our discipline from which other scholars will benefit, as Rasmussen and Westphal-Wihl made available to us new source material to be used in future scholarly endeavors.

Evelyn Meyer (Saint Louis University)



Ulrich Müller, Gesammelte Schriften. Eds. Margarete Springeth, Gertraud Mitterauer, Ruth Weichselbaumer, together with Annemarie Eder and Verena Vitzthum. Forword by Ingrid Bennewitz (Kümmerle Verlag 750 I-IV) Göppingen 2010. pp.1-692;1-636; 1-629, 1-580. ISBN 978-3-86758-005-2

Ulrich Müller, emeritus (Universität Salzburg) has his extensive contributions to our field available in a four-volume collection. The introduction by the editors and the Foreword by Ingrid Bennewitz place the enormous range of Müller’s scolastic activity into perspective and provide a useful orientation. The thematic organization of the volumes is well thought out and readily helps readers to access material. Volume One, Lyrik des Mittelalters 1, begins with general essays on Minnesang before focusing on Minnesangs Frühling and Walter von der Vogelweide. The reader will also enjoy the concise study of the Carmina Burana with regard to poetic technique and melodization. The section on political lyric of the late Middle Ages is insightful and useful for scholars interested in this area. Volume One fittingly concludes with extensive articles on Neidhart and Oswald von Wolkenstein. Volume Two, Lyrik II, Epik, Autobiographie des Mittelalters, offers a fascinating panorama of both depth and genre. After essays on Michel Beheim’s “Sangvers-Lyrik” and “Sangvers-Epik,” a brief study of Walter von der Vogelweide insightfully contextualizes political propaganda and agitation. The major section of the second volume examines “Heldenepik, Sangvers-Epik” with a characteristically international focus. The range of scholarly interest from the melodic significance of the Nibelungenlied to sung West African epics demonstrates the synergistic dimension of performance. The volume concludes with articles addressing “Autobiographie, autobiographische Bezüge, Geschichte,” a thematic complex that is often neglected, especially in medieval studies. Volume Three, Interkulturelle Germanistik, Neuere Deutsche Philologie, Mittelalter-Rezeption I, highlights Müller’s continuing interest in cultural interaction between the orient and occident. His eclectic purview is readily apparent in the sheer diversity of topics that he explores. In the final section of the volume, “Epik I, Der arme Heinrich, Tristan,” the reader will also be pleased to find mention made of one of the most practical tools for German medieval studies, namely, the “Mittelhochdeutsche Begriffsdatenbank” (MHDBDB: The fourth and final volume, Mittelalter-Rezeption II, provides us with an equally fascinating spectrum of scholarly works that are useful and supportive to scholars today.

Indeed, there can scarcely be a more gratifying complement for scholars than the recognition that their work is both useful and nurturing to their field of study. In this light, I was delighted to see that even earlier articles from Ulrich Müller are just as relevant today as they were decades ago. While writing a forthcoming review for JEGP (Claudia Lauer, Ästhetik der Identität – Sänger-Rollen in der Sangspruchdichtung des 13. Jahrhunderts, Universitätsverlag Winter Heidelberg), I was pleased to find that Müller’s work, in this case, his studies on political lyric from 1974 to 2002, were frequently cited as germane and significant. In my opinion, this assessment also hold true for contemporary medieval scholarship.

In sum, it is scarcely possible to pay adequate tribute to a life’s work that spans over four decades, yet this four-volume set of collected works clearly mirrors the esteem and affection that colleagues have for Ulrich Müller both as a scholar and a representative of the best attributes of humanity.

Ernst Ralf Hintz (Truman State University)


SMGS News from Colleagues


Helmut Brall-Tuchel (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf) has a recent article published: “Frömmigkeit und Herrschaft, Wonne und Weg – Landschaften in der Literatur des Mittelalters,” in: Das Mittelalter 16 (2011) 1, pp. 104-130. He also presented a paper: “Person und Landschaft in niederrheinischen Pilgerberichten des 15. Jahrhunderts,” at the Interdisziplinäres Symposium, Heimatverein der Erkelenzer Lande e.V., Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf.


Albrecht Classen (University of Arizona-Tucson) has new contributions:

War and Peace, Volume 8 in the series: Fundaments of Medieval and Early Modern Culture, editors Albrecht Classen and Marilyn Sandidge (Westfield State College) De Gruyter, 2012.

Late-Medieval German Woman’s Poetry—Secular and Religious Songs, translated by Albrecht Classen, Boydell & Brewer, 2012.

He has also organized two sessions:

Session 177 Valley II 200

“The Outrageous Middle Ages: Transgression, Perpetration, and the Scandalous I”

Friday 10:00 a.m


Session 253 Fetzer 2040

“The Outrageous Middle Ages: Transgresion, Perpetration, and the Scandalous II”

Friday 1:30 p.m.


Evelyn Firchow (University of Minnesota) has reminded SMGS of an editorial oversight. Together with Francis G. Gentry emeritus (University of Wisconsin-Madison/The Pennsylvania State University-University Park) and Winder McConnell (University of California-Davis), she is only the third scholar in her generation in America to be honored by a Festschrift: De consolatione philologiae: Studies in Honor of Evelyn S. Firchow, edited by Anna Grotans, Heinrich Beck, and Anton Schwob.

 C. Stephen Jaeger emeritus (University of Illinois) has a new book published this year by The University of Pennsylvania Press, Enchantment — On Charisma and the Sublime in the Arts of the West.

Sibylle Jefferis (University of Pennsylvania) has edited a new collection. Medieval German Textrelations: Translations, Editions, and Studies (Kalamazoo Papers 2010-2011). GAG 765. Göppingen: Kümmerle, 2012. The contributors are: Chiara Benati, Albrecht Classen, Anna Dalle Mule, Claudia Händl, Sibylle Jefferis, Francesco Sangriso, Jon Sherman. Her three articles included are: “Die mittelniederdeutschen Übertragungen aus dem Heiligenleben Hermanns von Fritzlar: Alexius und Von den Aposteln (mit Editionen),” “Die schlesische Prosabearbeitung Cronica von Schondochs Königin von Frankreich und der ungetreue Marschall (mit Neuedition),” “Legendenund Legendare: Bilanz der letzten 30 Jahre am Beispiel der Alexiuslegende A (mit Edition des Münchner Fragments aus Regensburg sowie Faksimiles, einem Stemma der Alexius A Hss und zwei Fresken aus Regensburg und Esslingen).”


She has also organized two sessions at Kalamazoo:

Session 147 Bernhard 211

Thursday 3:30 p.m.

“Low German Medieval Literature: Legends, Drama, Epics, Translations”


Session 486 Schneider 1145

Saturday 3:30 p.m.

“Lives, Chronicles, Legends, Chançons de Geste, Epics, Novellas, Meisterlieder, Drama,”

Sponsored by the Oswald-von-Wolkenstein-Gesellschaft

Evelyn Meyer (Saint Louis University) has recently received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. She has also served SMGS with distinction as Co-organizer of our May 2012 sessions. Our thanks and congratulations!

Ulrich Müller (Universität Salzburg) has a four-volume collection of his work in the Kümmerle Verlag, summer 2010.  Editors are Margarete Springeth, Ruth Weichselhauer and Gertraud Mitterauer, together with Annemarie Eder and Verena Vitzthum.

He would also like to call attention to a new, complete translation of the poems of Tannhäuser (Manessische Handschrift). Tannhäuser: Die Gedichte der manessischen Handschrift; Mittelhochdeutsch/Neuhochdeutsch. Introduction, editing and commentary by Maria Grazia Cammarota. Translation by Jürgen Kühnel. Göppinger: Kümmerle, 2009, 307. ISBN 978-3-86758-004-5. EUR 20.00 (Göppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik; 749). This is an affordable text that promises to benefit both students and faculty alike.

The SMGS News & Reviews is edited by Ernst Ralf Hintz (TrumanStateUniversity).

We wish to thank our technical expert, Ben Ogden, for his expertise in providing the online version with both readability and elegance. We also wish to thank the Department of Classical & Modern Languages at Truman State University for its support of this publication.

The SMGS readership continues to grow steadily as is the interest in receiving the SMGS News & Reviews online. Should you wish to contribute to the section on SMGS News from Colleagues or if you know of a colleague who would be interested in membership (there are no dues), you may contact me by at or fax (660-785-7486), or write to the following address: Ernst Ralf Hintz, German and Medieval Studies, Truman State University, Department of Classical & Modern Languages, McClain Hall 310, Kirksville, MO 63501-4221 (U.S.A.).

The next issue of the SMGS News & Reviews appears in fall 2012.


 On behalf of Evelyn Meyer, Alexander Sager and Ernst Ralf Hintz,


All good wishes for the summer from SMGS!