Friday, April 12, 2013

Teaching materials for medieval/early modern devotional literature

This last semester, my literature/culture/civilization course returned to the Middle Ages. Last time, I taught the course as a survey of literary works and was frustrated by the lack of focus, so this semester I decided to concentrate on religious history and devotional literature, broadly understood. It actually required only a modest alteration of the readings, since many of the medieval German literary classics also have a religious aspect. For the primary texts, I used Reclam editions of Gregorius, Der arme Heinrich, Der Ackermann aus Böhmen, and Geistliche Lyrik, supplemented with several shorter works. Overall, I think the course was a success.

I know my students better now as well. For various reasons, I can have a very broad range of students in the course, including new freshmen and graduating seniors, and students with high-level German proficiency as well as students making the transition from language to literature courses. In most cases, I can't just assign the readings and expect students to come to class ready to discuss them. When I've done that in the past, the results have been disappointing, especially with works as far outside my students' previous experience as most works of medieval German literature are.

My solution was to provide pre-reading questions in advance so that students would know what information to look for and what questions to ask themselves as they read. Most of the readings were in modern German translation, but with this approach students were able tackle a few readings in Middle High German, Middle Low German, and Early New High German in unnormalized editions.

Anyone who would like to use or adapt the pre-reading questions is free to do so (link). Most of the readings are obvious or easily found, but some are based on handouts for texts that are somewhat more difficult to find (link). As with last time, the course also involved a series of assignments on medieval textuality and bibliographic tools; I updated a few of the assignments for this semester (link), although I'm still not satisfied with the text history assignment. Those who are interested can also look at the syllabus (link).

The complete list of works addressed by the pre-reading questions (which isn't everything we discussed this semester) includes the following:
  • Arnt Buschmann's encounter with a ghost
  • Anabaptist/Spiritualist writers: Sebastian Franck, Ludwig Hätzer, and Ursula Jost
  • Hartmann von Aue, Der arme Heinrich
  • Hartmann von Aue, Gregorius
  • Der Heliand
  • the "Hildebrandslied"
  • Johannes von Tepl, Der Ackermann aus Böhmen
  • the Faustbuch (1487)
  • Geistliche Lyrik: Reinmar der Alte, Walther von der Vogelweise, Der wilde Alexander, Hug von Montfort, and Heinrich Laufenberg
  • Andreas Gryphius: "Tränen des Vaterlands," "Es ist alles Eitel," "Menschliches Elende," "Ebenbild unseres Lebens," "Abend," "Betrachtung der Zeit," and "Vanitas! Vanitatum Vanitas!"
  • Martin Luther, An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation
  • "Marienkind," from the Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen
  • Minnesang: "Du bist min," Der von Kürenberg, Dietmar von Eist, Meinloh von Sevelingen, and Walther von der Vogelweide
  • Oswald von Wolkenstein, "Ich spur ain tier"
  • Paul Gerhardt: "Wie soll ich dich empfangen," "O Welt, sieh heir dein Leben," "Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier," and "An das Angesicht des Herrn Jesu"
  • Lyrik der Reformationszeit: Paul Speratus, Martin Luther, Elisabeth Creutziger, Nicolaus Decius, and Martin Luther

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