Thinking Through Gender in Late Medieval German Literature

  • Ann Marie Rasmussen
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The absence of modern scholarship on gender debates in late medieval German literature is due not to a lack of primary sources but rather to reliance on assumptions derived from the Old French querelle, which are unproductive in the German context. Instead, a model combining codicology with gender analysis can more usefully explore the German debate. Key examples are drawn from the Liederbuch der Clara Hatzlerin [Songbook of Clara Hätzerlin] and from Die Beichte einer Frau [A Woman’s Confession].

Keywords

Europe Stein Defend Editing Univer 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See for example two otherwise excellent, largely descriptive discussions of medieval German literature, one in German and one in English: Joachim Bumke, Geschichte der deutschen Literatur im späten Mittelalter, vol. 3 of Geschichte der deutschen Literatur im Mittelalter (Munich: dtv, 1990); and chapters 2 and 3 of The Cambridge History of German Literature, ed. Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). See also vols. 2 and 3 of Geschichte der deutschen Literatur von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, ed. Kurt Böttcher and Günther Albrecht (Berlin: Volk und Wissen, 1990), produced in the German Democratic Republic during its final years. Early feminist discussions of medieval German literature, which are primarily organized around the category of female authorship, are similarly silent on this topic, for example the now dated article by Ursula Liebertz-Grün, “Höfische Autorinnen: Von der karolingischen Kulturreform bis zum Humanismus,” Vom Mittelalter bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, vol. 1 of Deutsche Literatur von Frauen, edited by Gisela Brinker-Gabler (Munich: Beck, 1988), pp. 39–64. An exception is Irene Erfen, “Literaturbetrieb,” Von der Handschrift zum Buchdruck: Spätmittelalter, Reformation, Humanismus, edited by Ingrid Bennewitz and Ulrich Müller, vol. 2 of Deutsche Literatur: Eine Sozialgeschichte (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1991), pp. 32–45. Erfen’s article discusses women as active and educated participants in late medieval culture.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The standard work is Barbara Becker-Cantarino, Der lange Weg zur Mündigkeit: Frau und Literatur (1500–1800) (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1987). Useful is also Elisabeth Gössmann, “Für und wider die Frauengelehrsamkeit: Eine europäische Diskussion im 17. Jahrhundert,” Deutsche Literatur von Frauen, vol. 1, pp. 185–96. For newer work, see Cornelia Plume, Heroinnen in der Geschlechterordnung: Weiblichkeitsprojektionen bei Daniel Casper Lohenstein und die Querelle des Femmes (Berlin: Metzler, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gabrielle M. Spiegel, “Genealogy: Form and Function in Medieval Historiography,” The Past as Text: The Theory and Practice of Medieval Historiography (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), p. 105.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hans Robert Jauss, “Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory,” Toward an Aesthetic of Reception, trans. Timothy Bahti (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982), pp. 2–45, here p. 45.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sarah Westphal, Textual Poetics of German Manuscripts 1300–1500 (Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1993), p. 13.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Westphal, Textual Poetics, is the most significant contribution to scholarship on codicology as a way of understanding the medieval literature. On variation and compilation in Maeren, see Arend Mihm, Überlieferung und Verbreitung der Märendichtung im Spätmittelalter (Heidelberg: Winter, 1967). On variation in medieval German romances and epics, see Joachim Bumke, “Der unfeste Text: Überlegungen zur Überlieferungsgeschichte und Textkritik der höfischen Epik im 13. Jahrhundert,” ‘Aufführung’ und ‘Schrift’ in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, edited by Jan-Dirk Müller (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1996), pp. 118–29. On variation in Minnesong (German courtly love poetry), see Albrecht Hausmann, Reinmar der Alte als Autor: Untersuchungen zur Überlieferung und zur programmatischen Identität, Bibliotheca Germanica, vol. 40 (Tübingen: Francke Verlag, 1999), pp. 13–50, which treat author function and manuscript variation.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    One of the most prolific lyric poets of the later period, Heinrich of Meissen (d. 1318), was (and still is) best known by his moniker, Frauenlob (Praise of Women). This name may refer to the poems he wrote in praise of virtuous women, or to his songs in praise of the Virgin Mary, or of course, to both. On the topoi of blaming and praising women, see Helen Solterer, The Master and Minerva: Disputing Women in Old French Literature (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995); Alcuin Blamires, ed., Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts, with Karen Pratt and C. W. Marx (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992); Alcuin Blamires, The Case for Women in Medieval Culture (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997). Blamires briefly mentions Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan, which is usually the only German-language text to be discussed in this context.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Helmut de Boor, ed., Mittelalter: Texte und Zeugnisse, vol. 1, in 2 parts of Die deutsche Literatur: Texte und Zeugnisse, edited by Walther Killy (Munich: Beck, 1965), vol. 1, part 2, pp. 1775–1817. The anthology is thematically arranged, and many other texts about gender appear in other sections of the anthology.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Carl Ferdinand Haltaus, ed., Liederbuch der Clara Hätzlerin. Leipzig: 1840. Reprinted with an afterword by Hanns Fischer. Deutsche Neudrucke, Texte des Mittelalters, no. 85 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1966). Hätzlerin was working in a time of great change; by 1474 the first printing presses were active in Augsburg. On Hätzlerin, see Burghart Wachinger, “Liebe und Literatur im spätmittelalterlichen Schwaben und Franken: Zur Augsburger Sammelhandschrift der Clara Hätzlerin,” Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift 56 (1982): 386–406, and Sheila Edmonds, “Claras Patron: The Identity of Jörg Roggenburg,” Beiträge zur deutschen Sprach- und Literaturgeschichte 119 (1997): 261–7. Elvira Glaser has recently published three articles on the graphemic systems in manuscripts copied by Hätzlerin: “Zum Graphiesystem der Clara Hätzlerin: Portrait einer Lohnschreiberin in frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit,” Arbeiten zum Frühneuhochdeutschen: Gerhard Kettmann zum 65. Geburtstag, edited by Rudolf Bentzinger and Norbert Richard Wolf (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1993), pp. 53–73; “Das Beizbüchlein in der Abschrift der Clara Hätzlerin: Ein Zeugnis Augsburger Schreibsprache im 15. Jahrhundert (Tonvokalismus),” in Sprachgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum älteren und neueren Deutsch: Festschrift für Hans Wellmann, edited by Werner König and Lorelies Ortner (Heidelberg: Winter, 1996), pp. 29–46; “Das Graphemsystem der Clara Hätzlerin im Kontext der Handschrift Heidelberg Cpg 677,” in Deutsche Sprache im Raum und Zeit: Festschrift für Peter Wiesinger, edited by Peter Ernst and Franz Patocka (Vienna: Edition Praesens, 1998), pp. 479–94.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    In defense of a holy cause, then, many a knight “journeyed forth,” as they euphemistically put it even then. The “journey” generally led to Prussia, which bordered on lands inhabited by Lithuanian heathens. To win these savage tribes to Christianity (together, of course, with their lands) was the main objective of the Teutonic Order, which organized expeditions east and north from its headquarters in Königsberg. The warriors were recruited in the West (Chaucer’s “gentil parfit knight” was one of them). “In the late fourteenth century, it had become almost normal for a young man of noble blood to make at least one such journey to Prussia as a part of his education. Quite often such travelers turned into regular visitors, for instance the young master of Boucicaut who thrice made the journey because there happened to be no fighting going on in France, also because of rumors of a bel guerre in Prussia ceste saison. Knights from the Low Countries often joined in the bloody revels. Many of the warrior extolled by Gelre (later Bavaria) Herald could boast of a glorious journey to Prussia—and the Herald knew what that meant, since he himself had been to Prussia four times in eight years!” in Frits Pieter van Oostrom, Court and Culture: Dutch Literature, 1350–1450, trans. Arnold J. Pomerans (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992), pp. 164, 165. See also Werner Paravicini, “Die Preussenreisen des europäischen Adels,” Historische Zeitschrift 232 (1981): 25–28. On the Teutonic Order, see Erich Maschke, Domus hospitalis Theutonicorum. Europäische Verbindungslinien der Deutschordensgeschichte. Gesammelte Aufsätze aus den Jahren 1931–1963, Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte des Deutschen Ordens, vol. 10 (Bonn: Verlag Wissenschaftliches Archiv, 1970).Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    Flos unde Blankeflos, ed. by Stephan Waetzoldt, Niederdeutsche Denkmäler, vol. 3 (Bremen: Kühtmann, 1880).Google Scholar
  12. 24.
    These two texts are tales (Maeren). They can be found in Hanns Fischer, Die deutsche Märendichtung des 15. Jahrhunderts, Münchener Texte und Untersuchungen, vol. 12 (Munich: Beck, 1966).Google Scholar
  13. 28.
    The scholarship on medieval understandings of the “author function” is immense. I note two recent studies from the field of Old English: Fred C. Robinson, The Editing of Old English (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 1–35, and Carol Braun Pasternack, The Textuality of Old English Poetry, Cambridge Studies in Anglo-Saxon England, vol. 13 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1995). In addition, I note a few recent titles from German scholarship. Horst Wenzel, “Autorenbilder: Zur Ausdifferenzierung von Autorenfunktionen in mittelalterlichen Miniaturen,” Autor und Autorschaft im Mittelalter. Kolloquium Meissen, edited by Elizabeth Anderson et al. (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1998), pp. 1–28; in the same volume, Almut Suerbaum, “Accessus ad auctores: Autorkonzeptionen in mittelalterlichen Kommentartexten,” Autor und Autorschaft, pp. 29–37; Burghart Wachinger, “Autorschaft und Überlieferung,” Autorentypen, edited by Walter Haug and Burghart Wachinger (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1991), pp. 1–28. On the codicological salience of authorship in compilation manuscripts, see Westphal, Textual Poetics, pp. 14–15; 143.Google Scholar
  14. 30.
    On Mechthild of Rottenburg, also known as Mechthild von der Pfalz (her birth title), see Alfred Karnein, “Mechthild von der Pfalz as Patroness: Aspects of Female Patronage in the Early Renaissance,” in Medievalia et Humanistic, New Series 22 (1995): 141–170.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Thelma S. Fenster and Clare A. Lees 2002

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  • Ann Marie Rasmussen

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