IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 106: Evaluating Affects in Medieval Law and Literature

Monday 10 July 2006, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Kaspars Klavins, Faculty of Humanities, Daugavpils University, Latvia / School of Historical Studies, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Victoria
Paper 106-aWith Malice Aforethought: Revenge in Germanic Blood-Feud (unconfirmed)
(Language: English)
Karina Tokareva, Department of History, Millikin University, Illinois
Index terms: Anthropology, Law, Social History
Paper 106-bOn the Etiology of Value: Affect and Arrogance in the High Medieval Epic
(Language: English)
Kiril Petkov, Department of History & Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Index terms: Mentalities, Social History
Paper 106-cEmotions of Violence in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Willehalm
(Language: Deutsch)
Valentin Blaas, Universidade do Porto
Index terms: Language and Literature - German, Mentalities
Paper 106-dGendered Desire in Dietrich von der Glezze's 13th-Century Der Borte (unconfirmed)
(Language: English)
Brikena Ribaj, Department of Languages & Literature, University of Utah
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - German

Abstract paper -a: Scholarship of the blood-feud is focused upon its role as a conflict resolution. It is debated if vengeful behavior in medieval evidence can be viewed as feud in a sense derived from anthropology. I examine Germanic evidence from laws to poetry in light of psychology of revenge. Ritualized techniques of inciting, displaying of grisly trophies, and a rhetoric of blood-debt, functioned alongside those of negotiation and arbitration. Mnemonic devices, such as lays and oaths, ensured conditions of enmity. While emotions were mediated by psycho-cultural mechanisms to repress or unleash aggression, feuding was a calculated strategy that produced an obligatory response and a legal remedy.

Abstract paper -b: This paper explores the emotive vestments of the phenomenon commonly rendered as pride and arrogance in the Old French and Old High German epics. Vacillating between a positive and a negative pole, the concept captured by these semiotic clusters through a variety of terms denotes both the ennobling core of the epic hero and his socially- and self-destructive potential. The inquiry examines the linkages between the ethical valuation the externalizing into an affect/emotion; the social reasons behind the attribution of ethical value to either affect or emotion; and the gist of the value system encompassing such values.

Abstract paper -c: The analysis of an epic work like Willehalm, which depicts the conflict between Christian and Muslim cultures, requires that we account for certain ideological elements present in the literary representation of emotionality. To accomplish this, this paper looks at some of those emotions which are linked to violence and tries to find out how they are portrayed in the narrative and the functionality they have. Additionally, emotions are put into a wider context: the paper examines how the aesthetic representations are different from other discourses of the time. Finally the paper attempts to unfold how historical semantics of emotions in the text such as haz and zorn are different from our current understanding.

Abstract paper -d: Little is known of Dietrich von der Glezze, the author of a German medieval narrative entitled Der Borte. The majority of medieval scholars believe that this work was written c. 1170-1190. This courtly narrative features a legion of intriguing concepts and issues, such as desire, marriage, knighthood, marital interrelations, sexualisations of power structures, attachment to material goods, and various transgressions.
In spite of these interesting issues, medieval scholarship has paid little attention to Der Borte. The principal question raised in this analysis of the narrative concerns gendered human desire, and the degree to which it is christianised. What is unique about this text is the overt – and contemporaneously – implicit treatment of all forms of desire, including homosocial and impending homosexual manifestations of desire. Such understanding of desire, however, needs to be viewed within a Christian framework, Dietrich seems to be conveying.
The author provides textual space for less represented social phenomena such as homosexuality, wilful cross-dressing, and various acts of mendacious behaviour for the purpose of obtaining chosen objects of one’s desire. He demonstrates how individuals transgress conventional norms, and how they are defined as a result of their transgressions. What is fundamental is not a single act of cross-dressing, an eventual homosexual encounter, or transgressions at large, but rather a sum of all these acts within the realm of human desire.
Dietrich, I argue, seems to observe that a Christianisation of one’s desire is indispensable to one’s social acceptance. The individual needs to appears Christianised for the sake of appearances. Dietrich, I postulate via my reading, seems to point out that a utilitarian approach to religion is ubiquitous, and not merely the choice of a select few.