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GERMAN 411 A: Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
* *
Annegret Oehme

Syllabus Description:

GERMAN 411, Winter 2021

MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm, zoom                                              

Office hours: By appointment (via zoom)       

Dr. Annegret Oehme,


Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture: The Art of Love in Medieval German Literature

Course Description

A damsel in distress saved by an adoring knight – this common image of the medieval times only offers a very small insight into the rich literature of the Middle Ages and its concepts of love. This class introduces you to central medieval concepts with a specific focus on love in courtly and religious literature. The course explores these concepts of love by examining Gottfried von Staßburg’s Tristan, Medieval Courtly Love Poems, and Mechthild von Magdeburg's Das Fließende Licht der Gottheit. The readings in this class serve as case studies to discuss the human need to bond with others and God, physically and spiritually, by the means of love. You will have direct access to medieval material and, in the process, both learn how to access pre-modern narratives and understand the importance of materiality and performance for medieval literature. Over the course of the quarter, you work alone and with others on three major creative projects: writing a modern love poem, drafting a continuation of Tristan, and adapting Mechthild von Magdeburg’s mystical writings for a modern audience. 

Learning Goals

By the end of the quarter you will have encountered different discourses on love in medieval German literature and, in the process, will have gained a better understanding of medieval literature, language, and culture and learned how to access pre-modern narratives. These overall objectives encompass many particular goals as well. As a result of this class, you should be able to read and analyze texts from various epochs closely and work in teams, apply questions that have occupied human thought to a variety of cultural contexts and approaches thus translating your knowledge through group work and individual research. Over the course of the quarter, you will expand your knowledge of the Middle Ages and literature as well as deepen your German. As we will explore various materials from medieval songs to early modern pamphlets, you will become versed in the importance of materiality and form in literature and experiment with these forms by yourself.

Course Material

  • Media available via streaming: Tristan & Isolde (2006)

Requirements and Grading

In addition to reading and preparing all materials before class, you are expected to:

  • participate in class discussions and group activities
  • complete all the assignments described below

Your course grade will be calculated in the following way:

  • Modern Minnesang poem 25 %
  • Tristan Continuation 25 %
  • Mysticism  25 %
  • Discussions and Quizzes 25 %


All assignments to be completed in German.

Because each assignment builds upon the previous one, no late work will be accepted.

Participation and Class Room Environment

The success of this class depends on you sharing your thoughts and questions with me and your classmates. Don’t be shy and share your insights with all – our classroom serves as a space to discuss and learn together. To ensure success and provide a safe environment for everybody, all discussions are expected to be conducted in a respectful manner and in professional behavior. Diverse experiences and perspectives have an important place in our classroom. We intend to present material in a respectful way regarding gender, sexuality, disability, socioeconomic status, age, culture, ethnicity, race, and disability. Let’s create a welcoming and respectful learning environment together. By participating in this class, you are committing to establishing this classroom as a safe environment for everybody. No discriminatory and disrespectful behavior will be tolerated. 


UW is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all students. If you have documented physical, psychological, or learning disability on file with UW, you may be eligible for reasonable academic accommodations to help you succeed in this course. If you have a documented disability that requires accommodation, please notify us within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements early in the semester. (Additionally, if you have not done so, please register with DRS

Communication and Office Hours

  • I will try to respond to your messages within 24 hours of receipt between Monday and Friday.
  • We will use Canvas. Please set your notifications on your account accordingly to get notified about important messages!

Readings and Homework

Please prepare readings by reading them actively (taking notes, summaries, noting questions and comments).


  • Modern Minnesang poem: Working in a small group, you will write your own modern Minnesong. This project will help you comprehend the consequences and choices of medieval poets and the similarities/differences compared with our modern lives. The projects will be submitted on Canvas and presented to peers in class.
  • Tristan Continuation: Working in a small group, you will write your own continuation of Tristan. This project will help you reflect on what mattered to a medieval audience and what matters to a modern audience. The project is accompanied by a short written reflection. The projects will be submitted on Canvas and presented to peers in class.
  • Mysticism: Working in a small group, you will create an imaginary communication between Mechthild von Magdeburg and an audience within the framework of a social media platform of your choice. This project will help you comprehend the consequences and choices of textualization and reflect on how mysticism can be perceived in Mechthild’s time and its place in our modern world. The projects will be submitted on Canvas and presented to peers in class.


Academic Integrity

In the case of plagiarism or cheating, the instructor will follow UW’s procedures and report the case.


Mon, Jan 04:                 Introduction

Wed, Jan 06:                 Welcome to the Middle Ages!

                                       Read: Rubin Ch1. 

                                                  Rubin Ch7

Fri, Jan 08:                    Middle Ages Continued (knights etc.)

                                       Read: The Middle Ages/ Medieval Society


Mon, Jan 11:                 Introduction “Minnesang”

                                       Read: Das ist kein Liebeslied 

Wed, Jan 13:                 “Minnesang”

                                       Read: Frühphase des Minnesangs 

Fri, Jan 15:                    “Minnesang”

                                       Read: Dienstminne – Hohe Minne – Entsagungsminne 


QUIZ 1 (01/15 13:30- 01/16 13:30)


Mon, Jan 18:                 MLK Day / No Class

Wed, Jan 20:                 “Minnesang”

                                       Read: Minnesang und Handschriften

Fri, Jan 22:                    “Minnesang”

                                       Read: Alternative Konzepte – Erfüllungsminne 


Mon, Jan 25:                “Minnesang”

                                       Read: Tagelied 

Wed, Jan 27:                “Minnesang”

                                       Read: Fiktionalität und Aufführungspraxis 

Fri, Jan 29:                    Minnesang: Project Preparation & Locus Amoenus Game 

QUIZ 2 (01/29 13:30- 01/30 13:30)


Mon, Feb 01:                Minnesang: Project Presentations & Wrap Up

Wed, Feb 03:                Tristan

Tristan (Gottfried).pdf

Fri, Feb 05:                   Tristan

                                       Read: Der "Tristan" Handlung / Struktur

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Mon, Feb 08:                Tristan

                                       Read: Tristan 1

Wed, Feb 10:                Tristan

Tristan 2.pdf

Fri, Feb 12:                   Tristan



Mon, Feb 15:                No Class

Wed, Feb 17:               Tristan

                                      Tristan 4.pdf  

Fri, Feb 19:                  Tristan

                                     Read: Tristan (individ. Readings)

QUIZ 3 (02/19 13:30- 02/20 13:30)


Mon, Feb 22:                Tristan: Project Preparation & Wrap Up   

Wed, Feb 24:                Online Movie Forum

                                       Watch: Tristan & Isolde (2006)  

Fri, Feb 26:                   Tristan: Project Presentation


Mon, Mar 01:                Mysticism

                                       Read: Das Hohelied

Wed, Mar 03:                Mysticism

Read: Monastic Life  

Das Fließende Licht der Gottheit 1

Fri, Mar 05:                    Mysticism

Das Fließende Licht der Gottheit 2.pdf  




Mon, Mar 08:                Mysticism

Das Fließende Licht der Gottheit 3.pdf  

QUIZ 3 (03/08 13:30- 03/09 13:30)


Wed, Mar 10:                Mysticism: Project Preparation & Wrap Up

Fri, Mar 12:                    Mysticism: Project Presentations & Class Wrap Up



“A class is a process, an independent organism with its own goals and dynamics. It is always something more than even the most imaginative lesson plan can predict.” (Thomas P. Kasulis)

Your learning is our principal concern. As a class, we may discover that we want to spend more time on certain topics and less time on others. I will consider changing the schedule if such a change would benefit most students’ learning in the course. Therefore, this syllabus is subject to change.



Catalog Description: 
Rotating special topics in literature and culture of the Middle Ages, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 8, 2020 - 9:13pm