Spring 2020

Chivalry: The Life, Death, and Legend of a Medieval Cultural Code

Listed in: German, as GERM-250


Hannah E. Hunter-Parker (Section 01)


“Chivalry is dead?” Does the current fascination with Game of Thrones indicate that medieval chivalrous codes of conduct are as relevant today as ever? Defenders and critics may argue if and why, and still agree that the time of gallant knights and gentle ladies is long gone. But was chivalry ever alive to begin with? How did medieval societies understand chivalry, and would they recognize its representations today? This course examines the historical literary sources of an enduring cultural concept, and charts the routes of its transmission into the present. Students will be introduced to key narrative traditions such as the chanson de geste, heroic epic and courtly romance from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries, as well as the conditions for their survival, reception, and adaptation in later centuries. The course objective will be to explore how fictional narratives of the past can be used to critique and historicize received cultural concepts today, from MMORPGs and histo-tainment to contemporary political discourse. In counterpoint, the course also examines how current theoretical discussions can foster more nuanced readings of medieval texts and contexts. Readings include Pfaffe Konrad, Rolandslied; Nibelungenlied; Hartmann von Aue, Iwein; Gottfried von Straßburg, Tristan; Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival; Ulrich von Liechtenstein, Frauendienst; Theuerdank. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Spring semester. Professor Hunter-Parker.


Attention to Issues of Class, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020