Conflicting Femininities in Medieval German Literature

Conflicting Femininities in Medieval German Literature

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Drastic changes in lay religiosity during the High Middle Ages spurred anxiety about women forsaking their secular roles as wives and mothers for religious ones as nuns and beguines. This anxiety and the subsequent need to model an ideal of feminine behavior for the laity is particularly expressed in the German versions of Latin and French narratives. Using thirteenth-century penitentials, monastic exempla, and sermons, Karina Marie Ash clarifies how secular wifehood was recast as a quasi-religious role and, in German epics and romances from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, how female characters are adapted to promote the salvific nature of worldly love in ways that echo the pastoral reevaluation of women at that time. Then she argues that mid and late thirteenth-century German literature not only reflects this impulse to idealize women's roles in lay society but also to promote an alternative model of femininity that deploys ways of privileging secular roles for women over religious ones. These continuously evolving readaptations of female protagonists across cultures and across centuries reflect fictive solutions for real historical concerns about women that not only complement contemporary pastoral and legal reforms but are also unique to medieval German literature.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 258 pages
  • 156 x 234mm
  • Ashgate Publishing Limited
  • Farnham, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 1409447502
  • 9781409447504

Table of contents

Contents: Introduction; How do you solve a problem like Maria? The Virgin Mary in Priester Wernher's Maria; Like the Virgin: Diu Vrouwe in Hartman von Aue's Gregorius; Like a Virgin: Diu Maget in Hartman von Aue's De arme Heinrich; Oh my man, I love him so: Kriemhild in Das Nibelunglied and Diu Klage; Pastoral persuasion and mystic rebellion in the 13th century; The champion of profane love: Herzeloyde in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival; A martyr for profane love; Sigune in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival; The saint of profane love: Giburc in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Willehalm; Turning the saint into a lady: St Elisabeth in 13th-century Vitae; Once I had a secret love: the ideal wife in Wigalois and Die gute Frau; Keeping female religiosity a secret in Der welsche Gast and Das Frauenbuch; Taming the champion: Herzeloude in Albrecht's Jungerer Titurel; From martyr to maiden: Sigun in JungererTiturel; Separating the saint from the lady: Arabel in Ulrich von dem Turlin's Arabel and Kyburg in Ulrich von Turheim's Rennewart; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
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Review quote

'... this book offers a wealth of material and, as reflected in the title, explores models of femininity presented in medieval German literature of (mostly) the thirteenth century. ... those interested in gender issues in the Middle Ages will find much of value in Ash's book.'
The Medieval Review
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About Karina Marie Ash

Karina Marie Ash received her Ph.D. in Germanic Languages from the University of California in Los Angeles. She is currently teaching medieval German language and literature courses at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munich.
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