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Late-Medieval German Women's Poetry

Late-Medieval German Women's Poetry: Secular and Religious Songs

Albrecht Classen
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 164
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  • Book Info
    Late-Medieval German Women's Poetry
    Book Description:

    Although there were a number of outstanding women writers of the late middle ages, it was not thought that women composed lyric poetry. Albrecht Classen's careful investigation of archival material, however, proves this to be a misconception, and in this volume he presents a selection of secular love songs and religious hymns composed by fifteenth- and sixteenth-century German women poets, here translated for the first time, based on his two-volume edition in the original language. Many women seem to have left their works anonymously, or hid their names in their texts using acrostics; in these and other cases, applying appropriate research tools, Classen has identified a considerable corpus of women's poetry which now promises to fill the gap previously supposed to exist in the history of medieval and early-modern German women's poetry.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-269-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Contrary to common opinion, during the Middle Ages and the earlymodern age a substantial number of aristocratic and other women were actively involved in composing literary texts. On the one hand, we know that some major female writers treated primarily worldly matters, particularly in the French-speaking area, examples being thetroubairitz(courtly love poets), Marie de France, and Christine de Pizan. On the other, women such as Hildegard of Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, Bridget of Sweden, Caterina of Siena, Julian of Norwich, and Margery Kempe expressed themselves in writing and gained public recognition through mysticism. This religious phenomenon...


    • Women’s Secular Songs
      (pp. 25-74)

      TheAmbraser Liederbuchwas copied by an anonymous scribe or scribes for Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol (1529–95) and contains 262 popular songs of erotic and religious content. Ferdinand placed this book in his personal library, clearly expressing his interest in these kinds of texts. TheAmbraser Liederbuchwas based on theFrankfurter Liederbuch,first printed in 1578, and reprinted in 1584 and 1599....

    • Women’s Religious Songs
      (pp. 75-112)

      Whereas in the case of secular women’s songs one can only guess whether the internal references provide enough justification to identify the texts as compositions by female poets, this information is usually much clearer in the case of religious songs. In many church songbooks, and in a large number of private song collections used for personal meditation, fifteenth- but mostly sixteenth-century women poets made their voices heard, demonstrating that literary and artistic creativity was not an exclusively male domain. Until recently, however, the map of latemedieval and early-modern German literature was deplorably marked by blank spots because hardly any German...

  5. Interpretive Essay The Rediscovery of Women’s Voices through the Investigation of Hitherto Ignored Sources
    (pp. 113-140)

    With few exceptions medieval courtly love poetry was, perhaps not so surprisingly, dominated by male poets. This has been, by and large, the conclusion drawn by most literary historians until very recently. Although the Old Norwegian and Old Icelandic Skáldonur (tenth and eleventh centuries¹) and the Old Occitantroubairitz(Southern France, or Provence, first half of the twelfth century²)—both terms signifying women poets—experienced a short period of flowering, their influence did not last for long, and they did not find followers in any other European medieval language as far as modern scholarship has been able to ascertain.³ Certainly,...

  6. Annotated Bibliography
    (pp. 141-154)
  7. Index
    (pp. 155-157)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 158-158)