Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Encounters with Islam in German Literature and Culture

Encounters with Islam in German Literature and Culture

James Hodkinson
Jeffrey Morrison
Volume: 53
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 278
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Encounters with Islam in German Literature and Culture
    Book Description:

    Islam has been a rich topic in German-language literature since the middle ages, and the writings about it not only reveal much about Islamic culture but also about the European "home" culture. Many of the early essays in this chronologically arranged vol

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-733-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    James Hodkinson and Jeff Morrison

    The volume Encounters with Islam in German Literature and Culture developed out of the conference German Encounters with Islam, which took place at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, in March 2007. The conference raised a number of important issues, issues that not only are interesting in their own right but also seem particularly pertinent, given the prevailing global political—and, sadly, military—situation. The relationship between Europe and the Islamic world once more appears undeniably strained, and so it has become the subject of serious reflection for political, church, and intellectual leaders as well as for the ordinary citizens...

  5. 1: “cristen, ketzer, heiden, jüden”: Questions of Identity in the Middle Ages
    (pp. 19-35)
    Timothy R. Jackson

    An interesting aspect of the Middle Ages is the way in which big theological or philosophical ideas (at that time the distinction is not always clear-cut), find their way from the Latin discourse of scholars into vernacular texts intended for a very different audience, non-scholarly and frequently made up of members of the laity. The discursive and narrative texts that will be discussed below are mainly spiritual in orientation, were produced by a mixture of lay and religious authors, and demonstrate a wide range of approaches: didactic, gnomic, homiletic, and allegorical. It is also interesting to see how, while the...

  6. 2: Wolfram von Eschenbach, Islam, and the Crusades
    (pp. 36-54)
    Cyril Edwards

    The view of the Orient that obtains in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Arthurian romance, Parzival, and in his final, unfinished epic, Willehalm, is unlikely to have stemmed from first-hand experience. While Wolfram had access to Arab learning, probably through the medium of Latin translations, there is no evidence that he ever went to Arab lands. Nevertheless, the Orient and oriental characters play a major role in both narratives, and there is a notable conformity of attitude between the two works, which points to a greater degree of compassion and understanding than might be expected at a time when the crusading ethos...

  7. 3: Perverted Spaces: Boundary Negotiations in Early-Modern Turcica
    (pp. 55-72)
    Silke R. Falkner

    Thus reads a revealing excerpt from Stefan Gerlach’s Tagebuch that spans the years 1573 to 1578. In 1674 this chronicle was finally published by a grandson of the author who had traveled to Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. In his capacity as court preacher in a German diplomatic mission, Gerlach describes the post-luncheon entertainment provided by two young male dancers. These dancers would also be expected to fulfill sexual requests—a vice that is commonly practiced in Turkey, according to Gerlach.

    According to German language turcica published between 1453 and approximately 1700, Ottoman sexual perversion and vice was...

  8. 4: Enlightenment Encounters the Islamic and Arabic Worlds: The German “Missing Link” in Said’s Orientalist Narrative (Meiners and Herder)
    (pp. 73-88)
    W. Daniel Wilson

    The critiques of Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism¹ were many and varied, and some of them are addressed in the introduction to this volume. For the purposes of this chapter, the most relevant criticism is that Said did not adequately account for developments in the German-speaking lands.² Anticipating this criticism, Said attempted to justify his virtual neglect of the German heritage. He argued that he focused on Britain and France because they were “the pioneer nations in the Orient and in Oriental studies,” and also that “these vanguard positions were held by virtue of the two greatest colonial networks in...

  9. 5: Goethe, Islam, and the Orient: The Impetus for and Mode of Intercultural Encounter in the West-östlicher Divan
    (pp. 89-107)
    Yomb May

    The theme of the “encounter with Islam” leads us to reflect on a contemporary problem, the explosive nature of which is obvious enough. Since the 1990s, and more particularly since 11 September 2001, Samuel P. Huntington’s formulation “The clash of civilizations,”¹ a phrase seldom used discriminately, has continued to haunt both political and public discourse. The polemics that flared up around Pope Benedict’s address, “Glaube, Vernunft und Universität,” at the University of Regensburg on 20 September 2006 have made one thing clear: anyone dealing nowadays with issues of “Orient” and “Occident,” with Islam and Christianity, is skating on thin ice....

  10. 6: Moving beyond the Binary? Christian-Islamic Encounters and Gender in the Thought and Literature of German Romanticism
    (pp. 108-127)
    James Hodkinson

    Many of the contributions in this volume demonstrate a tension between those texts that present the encounter between Islam and Christianity as an insurmountable clash of cultural and religious binary opposites and those texts that resist that tendency. This chapter seeks to explore how that tension manifests itself in the thought and writing of the Romantic period, which we will we consider to have begun around 1796 and to have ended by the late 1820s.¹ What forms did the Romantic encounter with Islam take? Although the German-speaking territories did in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produce a range of itinerant...

  11. 7: Forms of Encounter with Islam around 1800: The Cases of Johann Hermann von Riedesel and Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
    (pp. 128-144)
    Jeff Morrison

    In the context of a volume concerned with German encounters with Islamic culture it may seem bizarre to deal with two authors who write of or publish their travels in a language other than German. Clearly, many highly interesting authors have reported on their experience and interpretation of Islamic culture in German and might appear to be of more obvious interest to German scholars. However, the case will be made in this chapter that the two authors under discussion, namely the German travelogue writer Johann Hermann von Riedesel (1740–85) and the Swiss adventurer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (1784–1817), are...

  12. 8: Displacing Orientalism: Ottoman Jihad, German Imperialism, and the Armenian Genocide
    (pp. 145-165)
    Rachel MagShamhráin

    This chapter examines various discourses involved in German-Turkish relations from the 1890s until the end of the First World War, arguing that they are evidence of a more multidirectional Orientalism than is suggested by Edward Said’s idea of a hegemonic West representing and therefore controlling an essentialized East.¹ Orientalism, these discourses reveal, does not occur along the single trajectory suggested by its name. It is not simply a nonreversible, monodirectional phenomenon radiating out from the West onto a passive Eastern object, but rather, as Sheldon Pollock among others has argued, something that can also emanate from the East, be applied...

  13. 9: German-Islamic Literary Interperceptions in Works by Emily Ruete and Emine Sevgi Özdamar
    (pp. 166-180)
    Kate Roy

    In this chapter I will consider the encounter with Islam through the medium of language in literary texts by the contemporary Turkish-German writer Emine Sevgi Özdamar and the late nineteenth-century Arab-German writer Emily Ruete.¹ The contexts in which the two women write are of course vastly different. Özdamar’s short story “Großvater Zunge” and her novel Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei hat zwei Türen aus einer kam ich rein aus der anderen ging ich raus²—her texts that engage most directly with Islam—were published in 1990 and 1992 respectively, at which time Turks and other ethnic minorities were already a...

  14. 10: Dialogues with Islam in the Writing of (Turkish-)German Intellectuals: A Historical Turn?
    (pp. 181-203)
    Karin E. Yeşilada

    With the terrorist bombings of Istanbul 2003, Madrid 2004, and London 2005, Islamist terrorism finally reached European cities in the aftermath of the US bombings of 11 September 2001. In 2006 bombings were averted in Germany, but it was clear that Germany was not safe from Al-Qaida aggression.¹ Discussions of a “tödliche Toleranz” toward Muslims in Germany followed.² Federal anti-terror measures even reached the universities. In early 2007 the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz) published a demand addressed to the academic staff of Bavarian universities for more intense surveillance of unconstitutional Islamist activities in and outside...

  15. 11: Michaela Mihriban Özelsel’s Pilgrimage to Mecca: A Journey to Her Inner Self
    (pp. 204-220)
    Edwin Wieringa

    The most intimate form of encounter with Islam is to embrace it and become a Muslim. In the present-day atmosphere of fear of Islam and Islamism, however, Western converts tend to be viewed by their compatriots with suspicion, if not downright hostility. Is conversion to Islam not a motivating factor in becoming a terrorist? In March 2007, in a Saturday issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), its third page was completely devoted to what was called a “drastic” increase in the number of German converts to Islam. The news was announced on the first page under the sensationalist heading...

  16. 12: Intimacies Both Sacred and Profane: Islam in the Work of Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Zafer Şenocak, and Feridun Zaimoğlu
    (pp. 221-235)
    Margaret Littler

    These are the words of novelist Peter Schneider, published in the New York Times on 4 December 2005, in an article that warns of the recent rise of radical Islam in Germany.¹ The author of Der Mauerspringer (1982), whose protagonist fantasized away the Cold War division of Berlin, now fears the development of another parallel world, of unassimilable, alien Muslim communities. And he is not alone in this anxiety. Despite significant changes to German citizenship legislation since 2000, which now acknowledges territorial as well as ancestral affiliation as the basis for German identity, the countermanding force of increased national security...

  17. 13: Encountering Islam at Its Roots: Ilija Trojanow’s Zu den heiligen Quellen des Islam
    (pp. 236-246)
    Frauke Matthes

    While Muslims have increasingly been moving to Europe and not least Germany over the last few decades, bringing with them various denominations of their faith, another journey is at the center of every Muslim’s life: the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah. This journey constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam; the others are the shahada (witnessing the oneness of God and the prophethood of Mohammed), salat (regular observance of the five prescribed daily prayers), paying zakah (almsgiving), and sawm or siyyam (fasting during the month of Ramadan).¹ Like the other...

  18. 14: The Lure of the Loser: On Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s Schreckens Männer and Ian Buruma’s Murder in Amsterdam
    (pp. 247-258)
    Monika Shafi

    In March 2006 Hans Magnus Enzensberger, one of Germany’s most prominent authors, critics, and intellectuals, published an essay, entitled Schreckens Männer: Versuch über den radikalen Verlierer, in which he developed the psychological profile of a “radikaler Verlierer.”¹ This is a male figure whose isolation and desperation can turn deadly when co-opted by powerful and violent ideological forces. According to Enzensberger, the only violent global movement left today is Islamism, and after briefly surveying Islamism’s history and current mission of terror he describes its lure for radical losers of Muslim background. While the essay is Enzensberger’s first full-scale engagement with Islamism,...

  19. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 259-262)
  20. Index
    (pp. 263-270)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-271)