Category Archives: Newsletter

Nr. 39 spring 2016

Dear Colleagues,
The Society for Medieval Germanic Studies is sponsoring four sessions at the 50th Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo May 12-15, 2016. We wish to thank our SMGS Organizers, Marian Elisabeth Polhill (University of Puerto Rico) and Jeffrey Turco (Purdue University) for their time and considerable efforts in assembling this year’s program of new research.

Table of Contents
SMGS Sessions at Kalamazoo 2016
New Books Roundtable
The Sidney M. Johnson/Ulrich Müller Award for 2016
SMGS Review

SMGS Sessions at Kalamazoo 2016
Organizers: Marian Polhill (University of Puerto Rico),
Jeffrey Turco (Purdue University)

SMGS sponsored sessions, Kalamazoo 2016

  1. New Research in Medieval Germanic Studies I: History, Narrative, and Authority

(Friday, May 13 10:00 a.m. Session 218 Bernard 208)
Presider: Jeffrey Turco (Purdue University)

Claire Taylor Jones (University of Notre Dame) Historical Truth and Narrative Exemplarity in the Fourteenth-Century Dominican Sisterbooks

Stephen Mark Carey (University of Minnesota-Morris): The Historiographic Program of Hermann I’s Literary Patronage

Rebecca L.R. Garber (Cambridge Historical European Martial Arts Study) The Medieval Fechtbuch: Questions regarding Authors, Authority, and Audience

  1. New Research in Medieval Germanic Studies II: Words and Transmission

(Friday, May 13 1:30 p.m. Session 270 Bernard 208)
Presider: Marian Elizabeth Polhill (University of Puerto Rico-Recinto de Rio)
Adam Oberlin (Atlanta International School) Gegenrede im gar gebrach: Lacunae in MHD Phraseology and Figurative Language
Russell Stepp (Cornell University) What is a Dragon? Mythological and Legendary Reptilian Taxonomy
Jonathan Green (Auburn University) German Medieval Literature’s Unseen Species Problem

III. New Research in Medieval German Studies III: Myth, Monsters, and Pagans
(Friday, May 13 3:30 p.m. Session 322 Bernard 208)
Presider: Ann Marie Rasmussen (University of Waterloo)

Alison L. Beringer (Montclair State University) Dead or Alive? The Statue in Picture and Text in Der Stricker’s Karl der Grosse

Christopher Liebtag Miller (Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto) Death and the (Heathen) Maiden: The Ambiguously Noble Ends of Non-Christian Women

Tina Boyer (Wake Forest University) Religious Identities and Giants in Medieval German Literature

Sessions organized by SMGS colleagues

(Thursday, May 12 10:00 a.m. Session 30 Schneider 1340)
Medieval German Trojan War Stories of Herbort von Fritzlar, Konrad von Würzburg and Others: Interpretations, Translations, Interpolations, Adaptations, sponsored by Oswald-von-Wolkenstein-Gesellschaft, Sibylle Jefferis (University of Pennsylvania) Organizer, Siegrid Schmidt (Universität Salzburg) Presider,

Ingrid Bennewitz (Otto-Friedrich-Unversität Bamberg) Der Troyanerkrieg

Antje Wittstock (Universität Siegen) Konrad von Würzburg Troyanerkrieg und die Alchemie

Sibylle Jefferis (University of Pennsylvania) Der Einfluss des Lieds von Troja Herborts von Fritzlar (und seiner Quelle, Benoîts Roman de Troie) auf die Minnegrotte in Gottfrieds von Strassburg Tristan: Das Alabasterzimmer (La Chambre de Beautés)

New Books Roundtable

(Friday evening at 8:00 in Bernard 204)
Moderator: Ernst Ralf Hintz (Truman State University)
Jerold C. Frakes (University at Buffalo) presents his book Vernacular and Latin Literary Discourses of the Muslin Other in Medieval Germany. Palgrave Macmillan: 2011. ISBN: 978-0-230-11087-8

SMGS looks forward to seeing you at this well-received and enjoyable session at Kalamazoo 2016.

The Sidney M. Johnson/Ulrich Müller Award for 2016
Due to lack of submissions, SMGS will not be awarding The Sidney M. Johnson/Ulrich Müller Award this year for the best abstract submitted to SMGS from a graduate student or former graduate student within one semester of having received a doctorate. We strongly encourage the submission of abstracts beginning September 2016 for the 2017 award.

Books received for Review
A Companion to the Premodern Apocalypse, edited by Michael A. Ryan, Brill 2015.
ISBN: 978-90-04-24309-5.

Heimat in Literatur, Sprache und Kunst, Annäherungen an einen problematischen Begriff. Edited by Helmut Brall-Tuchel and Anke Peters, Verlagsdruckerei Schmidt: Neustadt an der Aisch 2015. ISBN: 978-3-9815182-7-6.

SMGS Reviews
Sullivan, Joseph M. German Romance VI: Wigamur. Arthurian Archives XXI. Woodbridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 2015.

Wigamur is a handsome volume, presenting a skillful edition and translation by Joseph M. Sullivan.

An anonymous thirteenth-century German romance, Wigamur is probably the most completely developed example of the Fair Unknown motif in the medieval German tradition. Joseph Sullivan’s edition provides the first translation into English, making more widely accessible this romance characterized by numerous marvelous elements, including a child abduction by a mermaid, Lespia, a wondrous rock-bath that tests chastity and virtue, a fountain of youth and plenty, and an eagle companion to the knight who eventually assumes his identity and proper place, first as Knight with the Eagle, and then as King Wigamur.

Sullivan’s introduction discusses the three manuscripts containing Wigamur, one in nearly complete form, and two fragments, as well as earlier editions of the text. He then presents prior scholarship’s generally negative assessments of the romance as a segue to his own discussion, which highlights the artistic merits and salient themes: its exemplarity as a Fair Unknown romance; the complex development of its main characters; and “the weaving of three core thematic programmes … throughout the text” (xxi): the prominence of reht, or ‘the proper’ within the verse narrative; the tendency to weigh ties of blood and family over merit to legitimize kingship; and an emphasis on property and its proper use. The introductory sections are followed by the text, translation and notes.

Sullivan based his edition on the only (nearly) complete existing text contained in the manuscript Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 51.2. Aug. 4o (W), which dates from the second half of the fifteenth-century. Following current international trends in Medieval Studies, Sullivan chose a conservative method for his critical edition, preserving as much as possible the East Swabian language and orthography of the late manuscript, which was written in a legible Bastarda hand, but with numerous scribal inconsistencies. In the extensive notes section, Sullivan identifies and weighs the merits of previous scholarship’s emendations, makes apparent his own interventions, and provides considerable background information on words, passages, and motifs.

There are at least two important merits of Sullivan’s endeavor: 1) his edition and translation make this important, yet understudied, thirteenth-century romance in the German language available to a wider English speaking public. 2) His volume also makes accessible to English speaking researchers the previous German and French scholarship on Wigamur, most recently by Danielle Buschinger in her French edition, and Nathanael Busch, author of a 2009 normalizing critical edition and translation into modern German. Sullivan, a talented comparativist, invites us to participate in freshly appreciating and assessing this important medieval German romance.

Marian E. Polhill (University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras)

Jerold C. Frakes (University at Buffalo) In: Vernacular and Latin Literary Discourses of the Muslin Other in Medieval Germany. ISBN: 978-0-230-11087-8, Palgrave Mamillian, 2011.

As medievalists we often allude to nexus between medieval studies and contemporary events to underscore the relevance of our area for students and administrators alike. Frakes’ book does so courageously and scholarly acumen in seven chapters. Chapter One introduces his study by situating it in Western societal perception that extends from Brian de Palma’s film Redacted (2006) about rape and murder in Iraq to medieval instantiations of the “Muslin Other.” The literary representations aptly chosen are Hrotsvit von Gandersheim’s Pelagius, the Ludus de Antichristo, Wolframs’ Parzival and Willehalm, and Crusader lyric by Walther von der Vogelweide such as his “Kreuzlied” and “Palästinalied.” In regard to the frequent attribution of “tolerance,” Frakes’ analysis exposes an undercurrent often overlooked by scholars: “While the bold statement in Walter’s lyric that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship a single God complicates all these questions, it does not render them irrelevant. Indeed one might still ask whether Muslins are there not still viewed … deserving either of conversion to Christianity and subordination to Christian political control or of death so that Christians may possess their land?—an issue, for instance, on which Walter ‘s poems demonstrate no accommodation toward tolerance in any sense.” (144) Navigating between “isms” such as Orientalism, Eurocentrism, and liminal modes of perception, that can quickly serve the propagandistic purpose of one or another ideological camp, Frakes’ skillfully problemizes orthodox interpretations of medieval narrative to question the notion of a “twelfth-century paradigm shift.” He examines afresh, for example, the images of Muslims as monstrous races “for they participate in larger cultural, military, and geopolitical movements that ultimately brought about the conquest, displacement, subjugation, conversion, and long-term Otherizing of massive populations.” (165) These literary historical precedents assume vivid contour in our twenty-first century media and Western interpretive lens, especially in the transmission of stereotypical, generalizing conceptions of Muslims with regard to assimilation and integration into Western societies as currently experienced in the Syrian refugee crisis.

In sum, this is an important book for both its actuality and contemporary application to medieval and cultural studies. Jerold C. Frakes has made a contribution to our field that merits our praise and gratitude for his willingness to challenge the ideological “given” and to do so successfully.

Ernst Ralf Hintz (Truman State University)

News from Colleagues
Tina Boyer (Wake Forest University) has earned tenure. SMGS congratulates you!

Helmut Brall-Tuchel (Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf) has new contributions to our field: “Geistige Heimat. Literarische Grundmuster einer bewohnbaren Welt” (35-58) and “Rückblick auf die Kunstausstellung HEIMATZEIT im ehemaligen Kreuzherrenkloster Hohenbusch,” (197-204) In: Heimat in Literatur, Sprache und Kunst, Annäherungen an einen problematischen Begriff, Verlagsdruckeri Schmidt, Neustadt an der Aisch, 2015.

Albrecht Classen (University of Arizona) has the following recent publications:
Bestseller – gestern und heute: Ein Blick vom Rand zum Zentrum der Literaturwissenschaft / Bestseller – Yesterday and Today: A Look from the Margin to the Center of Literary Studies, ed. Albrecht Classen and Eva Parra Membrives). Popular Fiction Studies, 2 (Tübingen: Narr, 2016).
“Toleration and Tolerance in the Middle Ages: Medieval Perspectives for Our Future,” The Living Pulpit 24 (2015): 9-14.
“Schrecken und Grauen, Mord und Totschlag: Das Entsetzen literarisch eingefangen.
Spiegelung des Schmerzes und brutaler Misshandlungen in Elisabeths von Nassau-Saarbrücken Loher und Maller (1437),” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen CXVI.1 (2015): 133-47.
“Mystical Visions and Spiritual Health: Medieval Mysticism As A Platform for the Exploration of Human Spirituality and Happiness: The Transcendence of the Body in the Quest for the Godhead – A Message for Us Today?,” Studies in Spirituality 25 (2015): 117-38.
“Stolberg-Wernigerode, Anna zu,” Frauen in Sachsen-Anhalt: Ein biographisch-bibliographisches Lexikon vom Mittelalter bis zum 18. Jahrhundert, ed. Eva Labouvie (Cologne, Weimar, and Vienna: Böhlau, 2016), 350-51.
“Haselnüsse, Erotik und Epistemologie in der Literatur des Mittelalters,” Fabula 56.1-2 (2015): 79-94.
“Ein großes Gelage mit ernsthaften Folgen, erzählerisch reflektiert: Weinkonsum und Wirtshausszene in ‘Der Wiener Meerfahrt’,” ‘Tschuldigung…: Kuriose Miszellen. Andreas Meyer zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Dorett Elodie Werhahn-Piorkowski, Hendrik Baumbach, and Alexander Maul (Marburg: private printing, 2015), 7-10.
“Royal Figures as Nation Builders – King Kamehameha and Charlemagne: Myth Formation in the European Early Middle Ages and in Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-Century Polynesian Hawai’i,” Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal 3.2 (2016): 112-15 (
“Introduction,” Bestseller – Yesterday and Today: A Look from the Margin to the Center of Literary Studies, ed. Albrecht Classen and Eva Parra Membrives. Popular Fiction Studies, 2 (Tübingen: Narr, 2016), 7-29.
“Bestsellers in the European Middle Ages? An Examination of Some of the Most Popular Books in the Premodern Era. With Reflections on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival,” Bestseller – Yesterday and Today: A Look from the Margin to the Center of Literary Studies, ed. Albrecht Classen and Eva Parra Membrives. Popular Fiction Studies, 2 (Tübingen: Narr, 2016), 83-103.

Ernst Ralf Hintz (Truman State University) has contributed a chapter: “Muspilli: Old High German Judgment Day — Judicial Practice and Salvation in the Ninth Century,” to A Companion to the Premodern Apocalypse, Brill: Leiden: 2016, 209-32.

Evelyn Meyer (St. Louis University)
“’Der Maler konnte oder wollte nicht lesen’ – oder vielleicht doch? Die Text-Bild-Bezüge der Blutstropfenepisode in den illustrierten Parzival-Handschriften” Geschichten sehen, Bilder hören. Bildprogramme im Mittelalter Andrea Schindler and Evelyn Meyer (eds.). Uni. Bamberg Press, 2015. 191-214.

Ann Marie Rasmussen (University of Waterloo)
“Problematizing Medieval Misogyny: Aristotle and Phyllis in the German Tradition,” in Verstellung und Betrug im Mittelalter und in der mittelalterlichen Literatur, eds. Mathias Meyer and Alexander Sager. Göttingen: V & R unipress, 2015, pp. 195-220.

Selected talks:
“Medieval Badges: Connect and Communicate in the Blink of an Eye,” Design Studio, HERE Berlin, 18. March 2016.
“Storyworlds,” University of Hamburg, 18. January 2016 and University of Greifswald, 25. January 2016.
“The Polyfunctionality of Script on Medieval Badges,” Harvard University, 3. December 2015 and Princeton University, 14. April 2016.
“Die Polyfunktionalität der Schrift auf mittelalterlichen Tragezeichen,“ University of Bamberg, Germany, 14. July 2015.
“Humanities Collaboration Between Universities,” New Directions for Humanities Graduate Education, Jackman Humanities Institute and School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto, Canada, 17. April 2015.

Joseph M. Sullivan (University of Oklahoma)
Sullivan, Joseph M. German Romance VI: Wigamur. Arthurian Archives XXI. Woodbridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 2015.

The SMGS News & Reviews is edited by Ernst Ralf Hintz (Truman State University).
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 Fall/Winter issue of the SMGS News & Reviews appears in late 2016.

On behalf of Marian Elizabeth Polhill, Jeffrey Turco and Ernst Ralf Hintz,
All good wishes from SMGS for summer 2016!