Friday, January 23, 2015

Johannes Rasch: A bibliography of his sources, version 0.41

[Update 23 January 2015: The first edition of the Gegenpractic, VD16 R 304, definitely needs to be dated 1588 rather than 1584, which helps clear up a few mysteries among the sources. I've started adding unique sources from the Vaticiniorum liber primus, but the rest will have to wait until next time.]
For our knowledge of sixteenth-century prophetic works, Johannes Rasch is an interesting figure. His responses to various controversial works are not extensive, but he collects and cites from many different sources, and he takes a more critical view than Wolfgang Lazius, who was active in Vienna thirty years before Rasch. Most importantly, Rasch often includes a list of his sources, and many of them can be matched to known editions. What follows is an initial attempt to match Rasch's sources to printed works, with the hope that at the end we'll have a better idea of what was circulating in Vienna in the 1580s and what might be lost to us today.

The entries in Rasch's bibliographies are often numbered and begin with a title in German and/or Latin, the author, the format, and the place and year of publication if known. The final piece of information, taking the form of "pag. 8." for example, appears to give the number of quires in each edition, and the number is usually close if not always identical to the number of signatures found in known editions. As a bibliographer, Rasch is reasonably reliable, but not completely accurate in all cases. For the entries below, I've changed the order to give the author, title, place, and date of publication.

In one edition of Rasch's practica for 1588 (VD16 R 315), Rasch gives a list of authors he cites, and then notes that he has listed the authors of Latin printed works in his Liber vaticiniorum, while the German authors are listed in the index of his Gegenpractic. This note is significant, as it tells us to expect to find printed editions.

As for Rasch's own life and work, the situation isn't all that bad. There are a number of treatments of his biography and writings (see bibliography at the end of the post).

Sources cited by Rasch in the Gegenpractic of 1584, (VD16 R 302-303, 320)
  1. Wolfgang Lazius. Catalogus aliquot Vaticinorum... Vienna 1554.
    Not in VD16 or in most bibliographies of Lazius's work, but a copy does exist.
  2. Wolfgang Lazius. Fragmentum Vaticinii cuiusdam Methodii... Vienna 1547. VD16 ZV 9507
  3. Methodii episcopi et martyris Chronica. Von den letzen zeitten / von anfang und end der Welt / geschriben Anno Domini 250. Probably ISTC im00522000/GW M23054
    Rasch doesn't give any bibliographic information, but see the sources of the Vaticiniorum liber primus below.
  4. Julianus episcopus Tolet scripsit prognosticum futuri seculi Anno 450.
    Again, no bibliographic information, but this appears to be VD16 J 1046.
  5. (pseudo?)-Vincent Ferrer. De tribus prophetiis Danielis. Krakow 1527. USTC 240820, 240821, or 240828.
  6.  Pseudo-Vincent Ferrer. Drey erschröckliche prophecey Danielis...Item / Sanct Hipolitti Predig von dem end der Welt. Munich 1575 (octavo edition; not in VD16), 1582 (quarto edition, VD16 V 1211).
    Note that Rasch was the translator of the 1582 edition and presumably of the 1575 edition as well, but the 1575 octavo edition is otherwise unknown.
  7. Birgitta of Sweden. Bestättung der Offenbarung S. Brigitten / Burd der Welt genant. Nuremberg 1481. GW 4400, ISTC ib00676000.
  8. Birgitta of Sweden. Himlische offenbarung S. Birgitten / etc. Nuremberg 1502. VD16 B 5595.
  9. Birgitta of Sweden. Revelationes coelestes D. Birgittae, etc. Nuremberg 1517. Not in VD16?
    This is another mystery. To judge by the number of signatures (104) and the format (folio), this is definitely an edition of the Revelationes rather than the Onus mundi, although it may be a smaller or less incomplete edition than the Nuremberg editions printed by Anton Koberger for Florian Waldauf in 1500 and 1502, which Rasch describes as 174 folio quires.
    There is a smaller folio edition by Anton Koberger Jr. of the Revelationes in 1521, however (VD16 ZV 25691), and the wording of the colophon (Finit divinum volumen omnium celestium Revelationum preelecte sponse christi sancte Birgitte de regno Suetie) is similar to Rasch's title formulation. So this is either a lost edition of 1517, or a misdating by Rasch.
  10. Joseph Grünpeck. Ein Spiegel der natürlichen / himlischen unnd prophetischen sehungen aller trübsalen / angst und not / die uber alle Ständ / Geschlecht und Gemaine der Christenheit / sonderbar so dem [Zodiac sign: Cancer] underworffen / und in dem 7. clima begriffen sein / in kurtzen tagen ergehn werden / Onus ecclesiae genant / Joseph Grunbeck Priester. Nuremberg 1508. VD16 G 3642.
    There is little doubt that Rasch is describing the first German edition of Grünpeck's work, but his addition that this work is known as the Onus ecclesiae is entirely erroneous.
  11. Welsch gattung / Windpractic. Strasbourg, 1513. VD16 W 1880.
  12. Newer außzug etlicher Prognostication unnd propheceyen... N.p. 1518. VD16 A 4439.
  13. Johannes Lichtenberger. Prognosticatio Joan. Liechtenberger...durans C. annos. Strasbourg 1526. Not in VD16? New editions of Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio are frequent in the 1520s, but none of them are from Strasbourg. In 1526, there are four editions, but the only Latin editions are by Peter Quentel in Cologne (VD16 L 1591 and L 1592). Rasch is again either describing a lost Strasbourg edition, or mixing up the place of printing.
  14. Paracelsus. Theophrasti Paracelsi wider Liechtenbergers weissag / etc. im buch Astronomica et Astrologica, auß dem buch der Weissager kunst. VD16 P 402.
  15. Kaiserliche Practica und Prognostication, auß allen alten Weissagungen / von 300 jaren her zusamen geschreiben / von Carolo V. Auch werden hierinn vil Wundergeschichten / in der Welt zukünfftig / durch den hochgelehrten Maister Alofresant zu Rhodis practi[ci]ret / etc. N.p., n.d. VD16 A 1934, ZV 415, or ZV 416.
  16. Johann Carion. Außlegung der verborgenen Weissagung Domini Johan. Carionis, von veränderung und zufelligem glück der höchsten Potentaten des Röm. Reichs. Nuremberg 1547. VD16 ZV 21897?
    Rasch mentions two editions, one with two quires (no format given) and a quarto edition of one quire. Neither corresponds exactly to ZV 21897, an octavo edition of 16 leaves, which is however the only known Nuremberg edition of 1547. There are numerous editions of 1546 and two more in 1548.
  17. (Pseudo-) Johannes Capistranus. Bildnuß eines nackenden Kaisers und Bapsts / gefunden in einem Felsen in Welschland 20. jar vor Christi geburt / auff den untergang des Reichs der Teutschen gedeutet / durch Capistranum. Anno 1460. und auch durch Carionem. Patenttafel / gedruckt 1556. N.p. 1556. Not in VD16, but cf. VD17 14:003063G.
    From the description, it's clear that Rasch is describing a work very similar to VD17 14:003063G, 39:148285H, and 23:258724U, although these were printed only in 1621, 1622, and 1663, respectively. So it's clear that Rasch definitely had access to a much earlier edition that is currently unknown to VD16.
  18. Cyprian Leowitz. De [conjunctionibus] magnis superiorum Planetarum... Lauingen 1565. VD16 L 1257.
  19. Matthaeus Zeise. Beschreibung und erklärung der schröcklichen / ungewöhndlichen / harechtigen / feurigen Sternen / so man Cometen nennet... Frankfurt 1578. VD16 Z 252.
  20. Wilhelm Misocacus. Prognosticon oder Practica auff das jar 1583... VD16 M 5481 or 5482; a third edition not in VD16.
    All three editions are by Jakob Rhode of Danzig.
  21. Geronimo Cardano. Ex Cardani supplemento Almanach et ex comment in quadripart. Ptolemaei: Seind hierin vil Sprüch angezogen wider die Sternkündiger / die von der Fürsten glück oder fall auß dem gestirn warsagen / dann dise zway Bücher seind bey den Astrologis in sunderm wehrt. N.p., n.d. VD16 C 940 or VD16 C 941?
    Both of these editions (published in Nuremberg by Johann Petreius in 1543 and 1547, respectively) might correspond to Rasch's description.
Sources cited by Rasch in his revised Gegenpractic
Rasch also published a thorough revision of his Gegenpractic (VD16 R 304-305) that included a new but unnumbered list of works cited. The first edition (R 304) is dated 1584 in VD16, but that cannot be correct. Rasch's dedicatory epistle is dated 1584 in R 304 (while it's dated 1588 in R 305), and his list of sources does not explicityly date any of them after 1584, so perhaps Rasch chose not to emphasize precisely when he was writing. But he does cite two editions of his own practica for 1588 (number 5 in the list below), and those two editions are dated 1587 and 1588, including a dedicatory epistle dated 18 April 1587 in both, and a signed date of 1588 in the case of R 315. So the first edition of the Gegenpractic, VD16 R 304, needs to be redated to 1588.

There is still one small mystery: Both editions are dedicated (with slightly different formulations of the royal titles) to Maximilian, archduke of Austria - who died in 1576. Why would Rasch dedicate a work of 1588 to a patron who died in the previous decade?

Unlike the list above, the numbering of the list below is my own.
  1. Wilhelm Misocacus. Prognostic oder Practick auff das jahr 1583... Number 20 above.
    Rasch notes that this work has been reprinted in several places.
  2. Wolfgang Lazius. Fragmentum Vaticiniorum... Number 2 above.
  3. Wolfgang Lazius. Catalogus Vaticiniorum... Number 1 above.
  4. Johann Rasch. Gegenpractic / wider etlich ausgegangene warsagschrifften... Munich 1584. VD16 R 302-303, 320.
  5. Johann Rasch. Practica auff das jar 1588... Munich, 1587 = VD16 R 319. Graz, 1588 = VD16 R 318.
  6. Johan Naß / wider Misocacs untüchtig practic / im buech Concordia luterana Schmidlina. pag. 171. 182. 191. 218. München.
    This is a bit of a mystery. One candidate is Nas's Concordia Alter unnd newer, guter, auch böser Glaubens strittiger lehren, published in 1583 by Adam Berg in Munich (VD16 N 118). That's late enough to include a section against Misocacus, and early enough to be mentioned by Rasch, and the length and place of publication are right. I haven't verified that it actually contains anything against Misocacus, however.
  7.  Pseudo-Methodius. Chronica von lesten gezeiten... Number 3 above.
  8. Birgitta of Sweden. Bestättung der offenbarung S. Birgitten / genannt / Buerd der weld... Number 7 above.
  9. Birgitta of Sweden.Himlische offenbarung S. Brigida... Number 8 above.
  10. Joseph Grünpeck. Spiegel der natürlichen / himlischen und prophetischen sehungen... Number 10 above.
  11. Joseph Grünpeck. Doctor Joseph Grunbecks Visiones auff das 29. 30 und 31. jar / und ain erklärung uber ein articl / darinn er durch etlich unverständige grobe klaffer gestrafft wierd / als sol er inn ainem büechlein / an den künig Ludwig in Ungarn unnd künigin Maria außgangen / treflich geirret und unwarhait anzait haben. 4. N. pag. 2. Not in VD16.
    This seems to be an otherwise unknown work by Joseph Grünpeck, from whom we have nothing between 1523 and his Prognosticum of 1532. It would appear to be a new prognostication and also a reply to a critique to his final judgment on the conjunctions of 1524, which was dedicated to the king and queen of Hungary (VD16 G 3629). It would of course be extremely interesting to see the critique of Grünpeck and his response.
  12. Joseph Grünpeck. Prognostication Doctor Joseph Grunbecks von dem 1532. jar an biß auff das 40. jar... Nuremberg 1532. VD16 G 3638 or G 3639.
  13. Weissagung der zwelff Sybillen / vil wunderbare zuekunfft von anfang biß zu end der weld besagende. Niachaula künigins von Saba prophecey. Merckliche künfftige ding von S. Brigitt / Cyrillo, Methodio, Ioachimo, brueder Reinhard / Johan Liechtenberger brueder Jacob aus Hispania, Doctor Joseph Grunbeck / Philippo Cataneo, beschriben auff jetzige und kunfftige zeit /etc. Frankfurt 1537. VD16 Z 945.
  14. Neuer außzug etlicher prognostication und prophecey ... Number 12 above.
  15. Paracelsus. Wider Liechtenbergers weissag... Number 14 above.
  16. Drey erschreckliche prophecey Daniels... Number 6 above.
  17. Antonius Torquatus. Prognosticon...von änderung des gantzen Europae... Vienna 1535. VD16 ZV 25351.
  18. Antonius Torquatus. Prognosticon, Weissagung und urthail von betrübungen und grossen anfechtungen Europae..., translated by Caspar Goldwürm. Frankfurt 1558 and 1561. VD16 T 1584, VD16 T 1585.
  19. Wälhische gattung... Number 11 above.
  20. Kaiserliche practica... Number 15 above.
  21. Alofresant. Ein prophecey und weissagung von den vier erben hertzogs Johansen von Burgund... N.p., n.d. VD16 A 1933 or A 1935.
  22. Bildnus eines nackenden kaisers und Papsts... Number 17 above.
  23. Johann Carion. Außlegung der verborgnen Waissag Carions... Number 16 above.
  24. Johannes Trithemius. Von den siben geistern odern engeln / denen Gott die himel zu füeren von anfang der weld bevolhen hat. Ein warhafftig büechlein / darinn auß vergangnen zeiten / was kunfftig zu gewarten / erklärt und angezaigt ist / durch Joh. Trithaim und Jac. Pflaum. N.p. 1534. Quarto, ca. 20 leaves. VD16 T 2006.
    This is interesting - unique among editions of Von den Sieben Geistern, this one contains an extract from the prophecies attributed to Jakob Pflaum.
  25.  Georg Tanstetter. Tröstbüchlein. Wienna 1523. VD16 T 160.
  26. Esdra. Practica auff das 1544. jar. Strasbourg 1543. VD16 E 3966.
  27. Cyprian Leowitz and Samuel Eisenmenger. Prognosticon der fürnembsten ding so von dem 1564. biß auff das 1607. jar sich zuetragen werden / auß Cypriano und Siderocrate. N.p. 1567. Not in VD16, but cf. VD16 L 1272 and VD16 ZV 25875.
    No edition of this work from 1567 is known, but there are editions of 1564 and 1568.
  28. Cyprian Leowitz. Klärliche beschreibung und historischer bericht der fürnemsten grossen zusamen kunfft der obern planeten / etc. Lauingen, [apparently the edition of 1564]. VD16 L 1259.
  29. Mattaeus Zeise. Beschreibung und erklärung... Number 19 above.
  30. Johann Rasch. Cometen buech...darinn der dritte thail sagt von asgtrologen practic vom end der weld. Munich 1577. Not in VD16, but cf. VD16 R 310.
    Like Number 6 above, here is another work by Rasch published in the 1570s which is not found in VD16, but which is known from a (likely revised and expanded) edition of 1582.
  31. Paul Werner. Practic oder Prognosticon auff die zukunfftigen 1582. 83. 84. 85. jar. etc. auß den propheten Daniel / Ezechiel / und offenbarung S. Johannis. Basel 1581. Not in VD16.
    According to Rasch, a quarto edition of two gatherings or eight leaves. I can't find any reference to the title or author in the usual sources, so this looks like a true lost work.
  32. Otto Brunfels. Der Christen practic. Erfurt 1578.VD16 B 8485.
  33. Konrad Schomer. Siben bueßpredig von zuekunfftigen schrecklichen straffen... Lemgo 1584. VD16 S 3837(?).
    The edition known to VD16 is from 1583, so either Rasch is off by a year, or he had access to a later edition not recorded in VD16.
  34. Pseudo-Jakob Pflaum. Etlich weissag / zusamen getragen im jar. 1500... Wittenberg 1532. VD16 P 2400 or P 2401.
  35. Reimundus offenbarung / ist gefunden worden in ainem alten buech vor vil jaren geschriben / durch Cyrillum, Joachim / Birgitten / Francis. Reichard / und Methodium, etc... N.p. [Augsburg], 1532. VD16 ZV 11958.
  36. Wunderbarliche weissag von dem Papstumb / wie es im biß an das end der weld regehn soll / in figuren oder gmähl begriffen / gefunden zu Nürnberg im Cartheüsercloster / und ist sehr alt. N.p., 1527. VD16 W 4643-4645.
    This is interesting - Rasch, a Catholic, cites one of the more provocative uses of prophecy as Lutheran polemic from the height of the opening pamphlet wars of the Reformation. He manages this by reading the work as if it targeted Luther: "Sagt von dem vermainten Papste der Teutschen Saxen / der vol teüfels sein / und von dem rechten Papst wierd uberwunden und vertilgt werden."
  37. Dietrich von Zengg. Wunderbarliche Weissagung von vergangenen / gegenwertigen und zuckunfftigen dingen / durch brueder Dietrich Parfuesser münich / etwan Pischof zu Zug in Kracen (oder Zeng in Croatia) Anno 1410 offenbaret. N.p., 1536. VD16 T 737.
    Based on the parenthetical addition, Rasch knew at least one more printed edition of this work, either VD16 T 732 or T 734, and probably a manuscript version as well.
  38. Kurtze propheceyung oder practica was sich ungfährlich auff das 1587. und 88 jar zuetragen soll. durch Bilger Ruth im wald verborgen. item / Prophecey / gefunden in Mastrich bey Wilhe[l]m von Frieß. Cologne 1576. Probably VD16 ZV 28130 [1587].
    I would like to believe Rasch, as this would document the first appearance of "Friess II" in print, a year earlier than the earliest dated edition. Unfortunately, the editions of the Kurtze Propheceyung (combining a version of the "Toledo Letter" with extracts from Lichtenberger") that include "Friess II" are the later ones. The Kurtze Propheceyung went through several editions in 1586-87, and I have a hard time believing that one of them, focused on the years 1588, appeared a decade earlier. I suspect 1576 in Rasch's text is a mistake for 1587.
  39. Discurs, uber die groß coniunction der planeten des 1584. item / von veränderung weldlicher propheceyen / unnd ende der weld / auß H. Göttlicher Schrifft unnd Wiettenbergischen patribus, auch auß leüffen der natur / des 83. bis auff das 88 un 89. jar begriffen. Not in VD16.
    Rasch doesn't provide a place, date, format, or number of signatures. I can't find any reference to this title in the usual places.
Sources cited by Rasch in the Vaticiniorum liber primus (VD16 R 323)
According to Rasch, he reserved Latin works for the bibliography appearing here. Rasch's list of sources also includes several authors without any claim that they appeared in print, which I am omitting here. The numbering in the list below is also my own, and I am also omitting works already mentioned above.
  1. Prophetia Abbatis de Flore Veneti (qui vixit ante annos 400.) de nostri temporis iconoclastis, miserandoque eroum exitu, insuper de reformatione et Unione ecclesiae, ante annos plures dimnitus producta et mirabiliter inventa. Iusti Iodoci Blankwald presbyteri. Antwerp tab. Col. 1567. Not in VD16.
    I'm not finding any references to Justus Jodocus Blankwald of Antwerp, or to a Cologne edition of Joachim of Fiore published in 1567. There are editions of 1570 and 1577, however,
  2. Titulus in libellum S. Methodii Martyris et episcopi Partinensis Graeciae: cum autenticis concordandtiis prophetiarum. Augsburg 1496. ISTC im00522000/GW M23054.
    This is a reference to the first edition of pseudo-Methodius to include Wolfgang Aytinger's tract, published in 1496 in Augsburg, and helps clear up the confusion surrounding number 3 on the first list above.
  3. Johannes Annius Viterbiensis. Prognostica M. Johan. Viterbien. de Imperiis, Christiano et Turcico. Nuremberg 1560. VD16 N 77.
    Rasch also lists a Nuremberg edition of 1471, but that seems to be taken not from personal knowledge but from the title forumulation of the 1560 edition.
  4. Johannes Lichtenberger. Prognosticatio. Strasbourg 1526 (not in VD16; see number 13 in first list above), Cologne 1528 (VD16 L 1593).
  5. Cyprian Leowitz. De coniuntionibus magnis... Lauingen 1564. VD16 L 1257.
  6. Antichristus, sive Prognostica finis mundi, ex Mattaeo, Daniele, et aliis scripturae locis. Basel [ca. 1565]. VD16 A 2936-2937.
  7. The rest of the unique sources will have to wait.

Secondary literature on Rasch
  • Barnes, Robin Bruce. Prophecy and Gnosis: Apocalypticism in the Wake of the Lutheran Reformation (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), 161, 165.
  • Hille, Martin. Providentia Dei, Reich und Kirche: Weltbild und Stimmungsprofil altgläubiger Chronisten 1517–1618 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010), 146-47.
  • Schöne, Renate. Afterword to Johannes Rasch, Das Weinbuch: Nachdruck der Ausgabe um 1580 (Dortmund: Harenberg, 1981), 125–27.
  • Schottenloher, Karl. “Untergang des Hauses Habsburg, von Wilhelm Misocacus aus den Gestirnen für das Jahr 1583 vorhergesagt: Eine verkappte politische Flugschrift.” Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 26 (1951): 127–33.
  • Smolinsky, Heribert. Deutungen der Zeit im Streit der Konfessionen (Heidelberg: Winter, 2000).
  • Wagner, Joseph Maria. “Oesterreichische Dichter Des XVI. Jahrhunderts,” Serapeum 25 (1864): 317–20 (on Rasch; the rest of Wagner's contribution extends across multiple issues). Nachträge, Serapeum 26 (1865): 123–24.

Friday, December 12, 2014

CFP: Medieval Media (Special Issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies)

There's still more than two weeks left to submit an abstract for a proposed special issue of Seminar that Markus Stock and Ann Marie Rasmussen are putting together. The CFP sounds intriguing, and I think I have something that might fit their project. Now that we've reached the end of the semester, I should have time to work up an abstract.
Medieval Media. Special Issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies
In recent years, the mediality of premodern and early modern literary and cultural communication has become a focal point in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Media of transmission, communication, and dissemination have received heightened scrutiny. Scholarship is expanding our understanding of ways in which different kinds of material objects serve as media, and there is renewed interest in the role played by materiality and mediality in the re-circulation, appropriation and adaptation of shared stories, images, and ideas. For a special theme issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, we welcome contributions that take stock of this recent shift in scholarly attention and that probe questions of medieval and early modern mediality from broadly conceived disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. We seek to include contributions from a range of different fields in medieval and early modern studies, drawing on various frameworks and approaches, including: history; art history; literary studies; textual criticism; material studies; architectural history; editorial theory and practice; digital humanities. We are seeking contributions focusing on case studies as well as contributions discussing broader methodological questions.

Lines of inquiry may include:
  • Orality, writing, print: the simultaneity of medieval and early modern media.
  • Text and image reconceptualized as forms of intermediality.
  • Types of media material: stone, wood, parchment, wax, metal, voice.
  • Relationship between the media’s materiality and the semantics of texts or content more broadly construed.
  • Manuscripts as artefacts.
  • Rules, types, and situations of media use.
  • Histories and concepts of media.
  • Mediality in medieval and early modern Catholic religious thought (annunciation, incarnation, sacraments, liturgy).
  • Mediality in medieval and early modern Judaism and Protestantism (preaching; reading; use of images).
  • The body as medium.
  • The charisma of objects.
  • Remote communication (messengers, letters etc.).
  • Media within media: imitation, representation, and appropriation of different types of media in other media.
  • Premodern and early modern multi-media: song, dance, play, images, word, text.
  • Spaces and places of media use: court, castle, monastery, church, city houses, city streets, villages, etc.
  • The Where of the message: walls, books, bodies, badges, etc.
  • Social distribution of media use: media of peasants; burghers; nobles, of members of religious orders, etc.
  • Medieval texts and images in contemporary media (comic books; television; computer games; film).
  • Modern digital tools offering new research approaches to the medieval past.
Please send abstracts of ca. 250 words to both Ann Marie Rasmussen ( and Markus Stock ( by January 1, 2015. Decisions on inclusion will be made by February 1, 2015. The due date for the submission of articles will be July 1, 2015. All submissions will be subject to peer-review.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Online resources for teaching German dialectology

This last semester, I've had the chance to teach a phonetics/introduction to German linguistics course for undergraduate German majors. It's been a fun class. We used the second edition of Sally Johnson and Natalie Braber's Exploring the German Language as the primary textbook, which generally worked well. I found several points needing clarification in the chapter on the history of the German language, but fewer in other chapters.

For teaching about German dialects, I was fortunate to have two native speakers on campus who each came in to talk about their own local dialects and language use. But for class discussion of German dialects, it was a bit tricky to find material that was right for my students (and I'm still looking to add to the collection). Here's a list of things I thought were most useful.

Dialect atlases
  • Online Wenker-Atlas. I'm excited to finally have access to the Wenker maps, but the GIS-powered interface can require a lot of time to figure out how the interface works. Some background in Germanic linguistics and information technology is helpful.
  • Sprechender Sprachatlas von Bayern. This excellent project was user-friendly enough that I could send my students there and let them work independently. I wish there were similar projects for every German state.

Dialect maps
  • Statistik Schweiz. This page from the Swiss government offers several excellent dialect maps of Switzerland, as well as a wealth of other information about Switzerland.

Dialect texts
  • tz auf Bairisch. It was surprisingly difficult to find authentic texts that were not poems, proverbs, nineteenth-century literature, or about Christmas. For comprehensible dialect texts for my students, the dialect edition of a local Munich paper was just right.


  • American English Dialects. This dialect map of North America gives students an idea of American dialect geography.
  • NY Times Dialect Quiz. After looking at the static map, it was useful to go through this dialect quiz so that students could see how their personal and family history influenced the regional affiliation of how they spoke.
  • The Sounds of German. The old site is still incredibly valuable. Let's hope the site redesign now underway doesn't take anything away from that.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Really early, very small, printed German literature (in the narrow sense)

If you want to look at the literary works that would have been accessible to the broadest range of people in the fifteenth century, then one place to start is with works printed in the vernacular and in smaller formats. In the vernacular, education is less of a barrier, and in the smaller formats (initially defined as broadsides, octavos, and quartos of less than 48 leaves), the economic challenge of acquiring literature is as low as it gets at the time. To look at the market for these works before printing reorganized the market for texts and the medium of the book, it makes sense to look only as late of 1480.

While I'm actually in favor of an expansive definition of literature and an inclusive approach to the objects of literary study, a narrow definition of literature is sometimes pragmatically necessary. We'll eliminate for now saints' lives and other devotional works, and pragmatic and educational texts (including history, current events, and the natural world).

Given those criteria, the resulting bibliography is quite short. It can be succinctly categorized like this:

Narrative works and literary classics
The first two clearly belong together. The Ackermann is an established part of the literary canon, but it's more similar in some ways to the humanist works below. On the other hand, the Ackermann and Pfaffe Amis have a considerable manuscript tradition, while the Pfarrer von Kahlenberg is only known in print.
  • Der Stricker, Pfaffe Amis (ca. 1478, GW M4411)
  • Philipp Frankfurter, Der Pfarrer von Kahlenberg (ca. 1480, GW 10287)
  • Johannes von Tepl, Der Ackermann von Böhmen (1463-1477, GW 193-198)
Humanist translations
These end up being the works of just two translators: Heinrich Steinhöwel and Nikolaus von Wyle.
  • Heinrch Steinhöwel/Fracesco Petrarca, Griseldis (1470-1480, GW M31576-78, M31580-81, M31583, M3158410, M31597)
  • Heinrch Steinhöwel, Apollonius of Tyre (1471, GW 2273)
  • Leonardus Aretinus/Nikolaus von Wyle, Guiscardus et Sigismunda (1476, GW 5643, 564210N)
  • Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini/Nikolaus von Wyle, Euryalus et Lucretia (1478, GW M33548)
  • Lucian/Nikolaus von Wyle, Der goldene Esel (1477-1480, GW M18985, M18988)
Hans Folz
For shorter literary works to 1480, Folz only makes it in by two years, but even in that short time he has too many titles to list.
  • Sixteen titles (in seventeen editions) from 1479-80
Border cases
These are works that might be excluded as devotional or educational works under a narrow definition of literature. As I prefer a broad definition, I'll include them here.
  • Die wunderbare Meerfahrt des hl. Brandan (1476, GW 5004)
  • Sibyllen Weissagung (1452, 1475; GW M41981, M41983)
  • Visio Fulberti (1473, GW 10422)
  • Wie Arent Bosman ein Geist erschien (1479, GW 4944)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Georg Meder reads Wilhelm Friess

File this under "things I wish I had seen two years ago."

When writing about prophecies, prognostications, or other sixteenth-century booklets, one naturally wonders who the readers were. (That was the question Xenia von Tippelskirch asked of me and Courtney Kneupper in June at the conference in London about "Dietrich von Zengg.") Usually the only evidence is indirect - who is the printer, what audiences does that printer usually serve, what kinds of demands does the text make on the reader.

But sometimes we have the good fortune of finding someone in the sixteenth century who quotes or cites the work in question. Here, for example, is what Georg Meder says about the second prophecy of Wilhelm Friess in Meder's practica for 1583 (VD16 M 1853, fol. c5r):
Halt auch gentzlich darfür / das derselbige ein gewiser vorbot sein / eines schnellen grossen Kriegsvolcks / so vom Nidergang gegen Mitternacht zuziehen werde / da denn andere mehr Bundsverwandten sich versamlet / und dann mit gemeinem hauffen auff die Berg Israel herein fallen werden. Man lese hievon Wilhelmi Frysii Mastricensis weissagung / so ime von einem Angelo, Anno 77. den 24. Aprilis ist eröffnet worden / und albereit vor lengst in Truck ausgangen ist / und halt hiegegen das 39. und 39. Capitel des Propheten Ezechieleis / und denn auch das 19. und 20. Capitel der Offenbarung Joannis des Evangelisten / so wirdt man endlich befinden / was für jammer sich erheben / und wie Gog und Magog mit all seinem anhang sich wider uns versamlen / und letzlichen nach dem Ezechiele / mit allem solchen grossen hauffen Volcks / vom Himel herab sol nidergelegt und ausgetilget werden. Aber wir Teutschen verachten alle solche warnung / glauben weder den Propheten / noch andern Wunderzeichen / so schier alle tag am Himel und auff Erden sich begeben / ja wol auch den Engeln nicht / und solchs am meisten dise / so andere zu bus vermanen solten. Derhalben wir anders nichts / denn endlichen uberfals Gog und magogs zugewarten haben.
From the date that Meder cites, it's clear that he had read one of the Basel editions printed by Samuel Apiarius, or a copy of one of those editions, probably printed in 1577. Prior editions attribute the vision to 1574, and later ones change the month and year.

For an astrologer, Meder strikes an unusually (but hardly unique) apocalyptic tone. This was not a new development for Meder; one finds similar references in his earlier and alter prognostications. Meder's reading of Wilhelm Friess also appears to begin earlier than 1582. He states in his practica for 1580 (VD16 M 1852, fol. c4r):
[Because of various eclipses and comets,] weiß ich anders nichts zu iudicirn, denn was in fertiger Practica vermeldet / nemlich das ein Occidentischer Potentat / mit hülff etzlicher mitternechtigen und Orientischen Monarhen von mitternacht hero ein unzelich Volck zusammen bringen / und auff die berg Israhel herein fallen / und deß heerlager der heiligen umbringen werden. [Read Ezechiel 38-39 and Revelation 18-19; those who cause this bloodbath will have their reward.] Denn was einmal der liebe Gott von diser grossen und letzten Niderlag und feldschlacht (deren gleiche keine von anfang der welt niemals sich begeben hat) durch seine lieben Propheten und Apostel zuvor verkündiget / wirdt zu diser jetzigen Zeit gewißlich erfüllet werden müssen / wie dann hievon auch neulich ein Prophecey außgangen / in Belgico beschehen / hievon genugsame Zeugniß gibt / und wir gewißlich bessers nichts zu erwarten haben.
The combination of ideas and sources in both practicas is nearly identical, so that it seems that the "Belgian prophecy" is none other than that of Wilhelm Friess of Maastricht. In his practica for 1579 (VD16 M 1851, fol. e4v), Meder explicitly identifies the mountain: "auff den Bergen Israhel / das ist / (wie es denn von allen außgelegt wirdt) in Germania."

Georg Meder is another astrologer about whom not much is known. There are eleven known practicas from him, spanning the years 1577-1599. On the title page, he is described as an astronomer and poet in Kitzingen, and his practica for 1578 (VD16 ZV 22615, fol. a3r) gives Mainbernheim, just south of Kitzingen, as his ancestral origin. The dedications of his practicas suggest a long and difficult search for stable patronage. He dedicated his practica for 1578 to Marggrave Georg Friedrich I of Brandenburg-Ansbach, but for 1579 he dedicated his work to the mayor and city council of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and to the mayor and city council of Kitzingen the year after that. His practica for 1583 was dedicated to the mayor and city council of Windsheim. For 1597, he dedicated his practica to a lesser nobleman, Johann Fuchs von Dornheim, and for 1599, he refers to a lawyer, Johann Büttner, as his lord and patron. One can't escape the impression of a continuous decline in the status of the patrons to which Meder aspired. His location does not change, however. After his practica for 1577 places him in Dettelsbach, the rest of his practicas give his location as Kitzingen. Meder seems to have been a Lutheran of the Philipist variety, with little good to say about Catholics or Calvinists, while also rejecting the followers of Matthias Flacius.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Astrological prognostications and Bildungsniveaulimbo in the sixteenth century

Now that I've had a chance to check about half of the facsimiles that I discovered, have I found anything interesting? Yes, yes I have.

* * *

One of the constitutive features of practicas, or annual astrological prognostic booklets, is how they identify themselves as a reduced version of some other text. The genre as a whole defines itself as the specific and concrete application of theoretical texts, but practicas also describe themselves as reduced versions of other works. Johannes von Glogau, the first German astrologer whose practicas appeared in print, regularly referred the readers of his Latin prognosticastions to another work for the complete astrological argumentation, usually with a phrase such as Horum omnium cause patent in iudicio maiori. Georg Tannstetter made reference to such a work as late as 1523, but by then most astrologers had switched to referring readers not from a smaller to a larger work, but from a German to a Latin work for the complete astrological reasoning. Interestingly, these longer works with more extensive reasoning do not seem to have been published, and one may wonder if they actually existed. While there are many practicas that were published in both Latin and German translation, the astrological argumentation is usually similar in both. So for their authority, practicas often direct the reader to other texts that are nearly unattainable, if they exist at all.

Even eight-leaf vernacular astrological booklets did not constitute the extreme low end of popular versus learned, however. One of the facsimiles I found this week is VD16 H 3291, an extract from the practica for 1548 of Simon Heuring (see the facsimile here). Looking through VD16, this work appears to be unique, as I don't find any other similar extracts from annual prognostications. Comparing its text to Heuring's complete German practica for 1548 (VD16 H 3290), the extract is clearly based on the complete practica, but the text has been radically shortened. Compare the first sections of each; shared material from the complete practica is underlined, while new or added words in the extract are in bold.

VD16 H 3290 VD16 H 3291
Das Erst Capitel / Von den Planeten so diß 48. Jar regieren und herschen werden. Von Regierung der Planeten.
Auß dem Lauff aller Planetenn / Auch eingang der Sonnenn in die 4. Angel. zeichen / Als da sindt der Wider / Kreps / Wag / unnd Steinbock erlernenn wir / Das in disem 48. Jar abermals Saturnus am geweltigsten sein / Und mit hinwegnemen viler waydlichen leut / Das fürnembst Regiment habenn sol / Mit welchem sehr der gütig Jupiter lauffen / Unnd sein wütenn etwas wirdt miltern wöllenn / Das dieweil er so gar / Nicht allein für sich selbest / Sonder auch auß krafft der grossenn Finsternuß /  Darzu der andern Constellation krefftig / Wenig schaffenn / Dieweil der mars das Zaichenn auch darzu thon / Unnd mit Saturno in sterblicher und blutdürstigender art / einreissenn wird / Gott der almechtig wöll ein genediges einsehen haben / das doch nicht so gar grosser unradt / als höhlich zubesorgen / wie und zum teil gantz wol verdient / volge. In disem Acht und viertzigisten Jar / wird abermals Saturnus / das fürnembst Regiment haben / unnd vil tapffere Leütte hinweg nemen. Unnd wiewol der gütig Jupiter / sein wüten etwas zu miltern begert / So wirdt doch der grimmig Mars / dem Saturno zu hilff / mit sterblicher und blůtdürstiger art / einreyssen. 

It's noteworthy that the extract includes two sections, on human fates and on cities or regions, that do not appear as chapters in Heuring's complete practica. The texts are drawn from his chapter on illness, but are moved to new sections following the section on war. This is exactly where human fates and geographical areas would typically be treated in practicas, for example in those of Johannes Virdung. Heuring's preface, on the other hand, disappears entirely.

From the comparison of the text and other features of just these two editions, we can get a sense of steps that sixteenth-century editors took to adapt texts to less educated and less practiced readers:
  • larger type face
  • fewer lines of text per page
  • smaller text blocks
  • clearer distinction between texts and paratexts
  • simpler syntax, reduction in dependent clauses
  • explicit marking of sentence breaks
  • more certainty in statements about the future, less hedging or ambiguity
  • switch from numbered chapters to topical sections
  • more traditional organization of topics
  • reduction of metadiscourse
One thing that isn't missing from the extract is diglossia, however: Unlike the complete practica, the title page and concluding leaf of the extract include the motto "Iusto, et Spem suam in Domino ponenti, secura sunt omnia" ("All things are assured to the just and he who places his hope in the Lord").

Friday, October 31, 2014

Word, Zotero, Excel, Perl and back: online facsimiles and the digital research process in the humanities (with source code)

At a recent conference on book history and digital humanities in Wolfenbüttel, I was struck by the very different places the presenters were in with respect to adopting digital tools. Some presenters did little more than write their papers using Word, some made use of bleeding-edge visualization tools, and others were everywhere in between. One is not necessarily better than the others, as long as the appropriate tools are being used for the task - some projects just don't require complex visualization strategies. While watching the presentations, it occurred to me that selecting digital tools for my own research is like peeling back the layers of an onion.
For the simplest research projects, Word is enough for taking notes and then turning those notes into a written text. When I write book reviews, for example, I rarely need anything more than Word.

For more complex projects, I use Zotero to manage notes and bibliography, and for creating footnotes. For my forthcoming article on Lienhard Jost, I took several pages of notes in Word. Then I created a subcollection in Zotero that held a few dozen bibliographical sources, some with child notes. When I started writing, I used Zotero to create all the footnotes.

If I have a significant amount of tabular data, however, of if I need to do any calculation, then Excel becomes an essential tool for analysis and information management. If I'm working with more than five or ten editions, I'll create a spreadsheet to keep track of them. For a joint article in progress on "Dietrich von Zengg," I have notes from Word, a Zotero subcollection to manage bibliography and additional notes, and an Excel spreadsheet of 20+ relevant editions (including among other things the date and place of printing, VD16 number, and whether I have a facsimile or not). For establishing the textual history, I start with Word, but I need Excel to keep track of all the variants. I use Zotero again for footnotes as I write the article in Word.

Once I have more than several dozen primary sources, however, neither Excel nor Zotero are sufficient, especially if I need to look at subsets of the primary sources. For Printing and Prophecy, I made a systematic search of GW/ISTC/VD16 for relevant printed editions before 1550 (extended to 1620 for an article I published in AGB), then entered all the information into an Access database. It took months of daily data-entry, and I still update the database whenever I come across something that sounds relevant. For my work now, it's a huge time-saver. If I want to know what prophetic texts were printed in Nuremberg between 1530 and 1540, it takes me about ten seconds to find out, and I can also create much more complex queries. Or if I'm planning to visit Wolfenbüttel and want to find out which printed editions in the Herzog August Bibliothek I've never seen in person or in facsimile, a database search will send me in the right direction. I'll also import tabular data into Access and export tables from Access into Excel based on particular queries, such as the table of all editions attributed to Wilhelm Friess. The Strange and Terrible Visions was an Excel project, but Printing and Prophecy was driven by Access.

For projects that require very specific or complex analysis, or that involve online interaction, Access is not the right tool for me. To create the Access database for "The Shape of Incunable Survival and Statistical Estimation of Lost Editions," I spent several hours writing Perl scripts to query the ISTC and analyze the results. Every so often I'll need to write a new Perl script to extend one of the Access databases that I work with. (One doesn't have to use Perl, of course. Oliver Duntze's presentation involved some very interesting work on typographic history using Python. R and other statistical packages probably belong here, too.)

* * *

Problem: As I'm located a few thousand miles from most of my primary sources, digital facsimiles have become especially important to my work. I check several digitization projects daily for new facsimiles and update my database accordingly. Systematic searching for facsimiles led me to the discovery Lienhard Jost's lost visions, so I've already seen real professional benefit from keeping track of new digital editions. But what if I miss a day or skip over an important title? I might be missing out on something important.

Solution: Create an Access query to check my database and find all the titles in VD16 for which no facsimile is known. Time: 10 seconds. Result: 1,565 editions.
Export the results to Excel, and save them as a text file. Time: 10 more seconds.
Search VD16 for all 1,565 editions by hand and check for new facsimiles? Time: 13 mind-numbing hours?


Instead, write a short Perl script (see below) to read the text file, query the VD16 database, and spit out the VD16 numbers when it finds a link to a digital edition. Time: 1 hour (30 minutes programming, 30 minutes run time). Result: 280 new digital facsimiles that I had overlooked.

To inspect all of those facsimiles and see if they're hiding anything exciting will take a few weeks, but most of the time I spend on it will involve core scholarly competencies of reading and evaluating primary sources, and it will make my knowledge of the sources more comprehensive and complete. In cases like this, digital tools let me get to the heart of my scholarship more efficiently and spend less time on repetitive tasks.

Does every humanist need to know a programming language, as some conference participants suggested? I don't know. We need to constantly acquire or become conversant in new skills, both within and outside our discipline, but sometimes it makes more sense to rely on the help of experts. I don't think it's implausible, however, that before long it will be as common for scholars in the humanities to use programming languages as it is for us to use Excel today.

* * *

After all, if you can learn Latin, Perl isn't difficult.

### This script reads through a list of VD16 numbers (assumed to be named 'vd16.txt' and found in the same directory where the
### script is run, with one entry on each line in the form 'VD16 S 843'). The script loads the corresponding VD16 entry and checks
### to see if a digital facsimile is available. If it is, it prints the VD16 number.

### This script relies on the following Perl modules: LWP

use strict;
use LWP::Simple;    ### For grabbing web pages

my $VD16number;
my $url;
my $baseurl = '';
my $VD16page;
my $formatVD16number;

open FILE , "<VD16.txt";

while (<FILE>) {
    ### Create the URL to check
    ($VD16number) = ($_);
    ### Remove the newlines
    chomp ($VD16number);
    ### Replace spaces with + signs for the durable URL (seems not to be strictly necessary, will accept spaces OK)
    $formatVD16number = $VD16number;
    $formatVD16number =~ s/[ ]/+/g;
    ### Set up the URL we want to retrieve
    $url = $baseurl . $formatVD16number;
### Now load that page
    $VD16page = get $url;
    ### Now look for a facsimile link
    if ($VD16page =~ / {
    ### If we find one, print the VD16 number
        print "$VD16number\n";