IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 1205: Cities in Courtly Literature: From Rudolf von Ems to Thomas Malory

Wednesday 11 July 2007, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Cordula Böcking-Politis, Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Paper 1205-aCourt and City in Rudolf von Ems’ Der guote Gêrhart
(Language: English)
Siegfried Christoph, Department of Modern Languages, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Index terms: Language and Literature - German, Mentalities
Paper 1205-bDispute Settlement in Lohengrin: Elsam's Champion, Trial by Battle and the Role of the City
(Language: English)
Vickie Ziegler, Centre for Medieval Studies, Pennsylvania State University
Index terms: Language and Literature - German, Law
Paper 1205-cThe Spiritual Collision between Camelot and Sarras
(Language: English)
Diana C. Jefferies, Department of English, University of Sydney
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety, Religious Life

Paper a: Rudolf von Ems’ early work is designed as an exemplum in which the tale of Gerhart is framed by the ambition and subsequent enlightenment of an emperor. The paper considers Der guote Gêrhart to explore the potential for transferring ‘courtly’ values from their traditional venues and aristocratic exponents to an urban setting and its respective representatives. This leads to a broader consideration of ‘inherent’ vs. ‘acculturated’ nobility, arguments on behalf of an emerging and specifically urban ethos, and how stock characters, e.g. Keie as slanderer or Meljaganz as disruptive challenger, appear in urban culture, if at all. Finally, the paper considers the question of whether Der guote Gêrhart can be considered an argument for a distinct urban culture.
Paper b: The lengthy prelude to the trial by battle in a late thirteenth/early fourteenth century version of Lohengrin, probably Bavarian, contains numerous references to the role of the cities in the efforts of Elsam von Brabant to assemble an impressive retinue for her appearance at court and the ordeal scene. In the extensive preparation for the trial, the author of this work gives much space to behind-the-scenes political deliberations as well as to the solicitation of financial contributions from the cities and the negotiations with their representatives. The paper will examine the portrayal of the quarrel and its resolution and compare it with trial by battle in earlier Middle High German works in which the cities do not appear.
Paper c: In Sir Thomas Malory’s sixth book of the Morte D’Arthur, the Tale of the Sangreal, the two cities of Camelot and Sarras are juxtaposed. Camelot represents the worldly chivalry of the Round Table, which encourages knights to use violence to achieve individual glory; whereas Sarras represents the spiritual chivalry of the Grail that specifies that knights must consider the needs of the entire community before they enter into any act of violence. An examination of these differing ideals shows that Malory’s version of the Grail legend does, in fact, demonstrate why the Arthurian civilisation must ultimately fall.