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GE14: German Literature, Thought and History in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

This paper is available for the academic year 2020-21.

This course covers the making of German culture up until the threshold of the modern era, focusing on the major influences that have shaped not only Germany but the modern world as we know it today: the literature of the medieval period, the thought of the Reformation, and the history of the Holy Roman Empire.

The course is topic-based. Students typically tackle four topics chosen from the six on offer, but can spread themselves more thinly over all six; hence they can either integrate the different areas of study in a broad overview, or they can pursue a particular interest, emphasizing if they wish the medieval or early modern period, or a specific aspect such as history or literature. Students who took paper Ge 4 in the second year will find that this course is a natural sequel, and it will also appeal to anyone who wants to complement Ge 12 or branch out from Ge 7. But it should be emphasized that the paper assumes no previous knowledge, and is open to everybody interested in exploring the riches of the first millennium of German culture.

  1. Romance
  2. Minnesang
  3. The Middle High German Epic: Rolandslied and Wolfram's Willehalm
  4. Ritual, Representation, Community: Drama in the Later Middle Ages
  5. The German Reformation
  6. The Holy Roman Empire 1495-1806
  7. Power, “race,” and gender in early modern literary texts
Preparatory reading: 

Please see the reading list.

Teaching and learning: 

In 2019-20 there will be four lectures on each of topics 1, 3, 4, 5, spread over the first two terms; there will also be four introductory language classes in the first half of Michaelmas Term. Topics 2, 6, 7 will additionally be available to interested students through supervisions only. There will be questions relating to all 7 topics on the exam paper.

For the Ge.14 Moodle site, please see here.


Three-hour written examination. Questions on three topics must be answered.

NB. Arrangements for 2020-21 to be confirmed.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Mark Chinca