Academic journal article German Quarterly

Fremdes wahrnehmen, fremdes Wahrnehmen

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Fremdes wahrnehmen, fremdes Wahrnehmen

Article excerpt

Harms, Wolfgang, and C. Stephen Jaeger, eds. Fremdes wahrnehmen, fremdes Wahrnehmen. Stuttgart: Hirzel, 1997. 280 pp. DM 84.00 paperback.

The goal of this book is stated at the beginning of the editors' two-page foreword: "Das Thema `Fremdes wahrnehmen-fremdes Wahrnehmen' soil in mehrfacher Weise Besonderheiten in mittelalterlicher and fruhneuzeitlicher Literatur and Kultur erkennbar machen" (7). The fifteen essays it contains are based on the proceedings of three conferences on the topic "Fremdes wahrnehmen-fremdes Wahrnehmen" held between 1992 and 1995 in Germany and the United States, at which scholars from North America and Germany presented their research and, in the spirit of the topic, engaged the "Fremde" by discussing their differing experiences in the areas of teaching and research. A brief survey of the articles demonstrates the very broad literary and cultural range of this book.

One of the important ways of encountering the Fremde is assimilation. Wright's essay, the only one in this volume in English, shows how medieval scholars assimilated the late fourthcentury fables of the poet Avianus, infamous on account of their "awkward prosody" and "ridiculous pretension" (10), to the liberal arts curriculum-basically by re-writing them, while Lieb shows how Sebastian Brant's early sixteenth century edition of the "Esopus-Additiones" shows signs of being transformed from a moralistic fable into a "Schulbuch fur den humanistischen Gelehrten" (253). There are numerous examples of the Fremde functioning to offirm the existing social and political order. In his analysis of a Middle High German version of the legend of St. Brendan (produced ca. 1300), Demmelhuber shows how an epistemological system based on the traditional truths of books, when shaken by the rise of empiricism, reAffirms itself by means of the production of a "phantom" empiricism that rediscovers those same truths. Two insightful analyses of Gottfried's Tristan reveal the interests of courtly power relations in the depiction of the Fremde: Kucaba's study of the trial of the glowing iron as a "h6fisch inszenierte Wahrheit" that serves the preservation of King Marke's honor, and Hutfilz's examination of the Minnegrotte as a pastoral space that ultimately serves to preserve courtly values. Similarly, Friedrich shows in his study of the Strassburger Alexander as an "Uberwindung der Natur" that the depiction of the Fremde ultimately functions to re-affirm interests of the feudal power structure. Finally, Vogel's study of the lyrics of Neidhart focuses on the perspectives of the "Riuwenthaler" and the "Dorper" as aesthetic constructions that enable feudal-aristocratic audiences to imagine a Fremde that is safely removed from their own world (176).

Other articles tend to see the Fremde as functioning to question or undo the social order. …

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