Honors Colloquium 195J. Spring 2020

Honors Colloquium Spring 2020 (updated on March 18, 2020; updated on April 10, 2020)

HNRS 195J--003, Special Topics in Humanities


TOPIC: The Paradoxes of Love in the Middle Ages: Gottfried von Strasburg's Tristan


INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Albrecht Classen, Dept. of German Studies, LSB 318, tel.: 621-1395; email: aclassen@email.arizona.edu; aclassen.faculty.arizona.edu


Office: 318 Learning Service Building

1512 E 1st St., between Vine and Cherry





CLASS MEETING TIME: Fri 9:00-9:50 a.m.


OFFICE HOURS: Mo and We 12:15 - 1:15 p.m., and most other times during the week; just come by, or give me a call to make an appointment.



This is a colloquium geared toward Honors students only. You are the most inquisitive, curious, intellectually motivated students on campus, I assume. For you I have selected a truly medieval  ‘classic,’ Gottfried of Strasbourg's Tristan (ca. 1210). This is one of the most famous medieval love story, which quickly translates from being an account of true love to a literary reflection on the highest ethical goals and ideals in human life. As the poet reveals to us right from the start, the true essence of all existence is to embrace the sweetness of life with its bitterness, in order to achieve a holistic understanding. This courtly romance consists of ca. 30 chapters, i.e., ca. 300 pp. These can be easily divvied up into 2 chapters per week, which should be very easy for you. I promise you, this will be one of the most profound reading experiences for the rest of your life.



You will become familiar with one of the greatest medieval romance and learn to address critical issues formulated here that continue to have major meaning and urgency for us today. TAt the end, you will have a solid understanding of this masterpiece and will have gained deep insight into the universal topics addressed in this text. We will handle this as a real colloquium, discussing the issues together, always giving you a great heads-up for the weekend and the following week. 

Student Learning OUTCOME:

1. Solid understanding of this romance, 2. the ability to discuss its central theses critically in class discussions , and 3. a high level of academic writing about this medieval romance. 4. The final outcome will be a deep concept of courtly love as formulated in Gottfried's Tristan



Although it is assumed that you will attend all class meetings, you are informed hereby that excessive absences will have consequences for your grade.


Please treat each other with respect and tolerance. People do have different views and opinions, but all these can only contribute to the rich learning experience I hope you all will have in this class. You are strongly encouraged to participate in class as much as possible. The one meeting per week will only be of profit for you if you respond to my questions and those of your classmates, come forward with your own questions, opinions, etc.



The University of Arizona is committed to fostering a learning, working, and living environment free from all forms of discrimination, including harassment. The University’s Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The policy also prohibits retaliation for opposing discriminatory conduct, filing a discrimination-related complaint, or participating in the investigation of a discrimination-related complaint.


For definitions of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, please see the University's Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy here or visit the Office of Institutional Equity website.

For information on the University of Arizona Policy on Threatening Behavior by Students, click on this link. 


"We seek to create the comprehensively engaged university with the expectation that everyone will make a contribution to inclusive excellence. Diversity and inclusiveness are core values for the University of Arizona and offer a competitive advantage in attracting faculty, staff, students and their partners. Moreover, diversity allows the institution to prepare students to be leaders in global contexts." It is my personal goal to provide an all-inclusive classroom where everyone is treated equally and has the same opportunity. (http://diversity.arizona.edu/vision-our-campus). Fairness,justice, and transparency are the foundations of the best education.

SPECIAL NEEDS: Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations to participate fully in course activities or meet course requirements must register with the Disability Resource Center. (http://drc.arizona.edu/). Students need to submit appropriate documentation to the instructor if they are requesting reasonable accommodations.


If you use secondary material for your journal, make sure that you indicate clearly where you took it from. Plagiarism and cheating violate the Code of Academic Integrity. For further information, see:


Do not ever copy from the work produced by your classmates or by other students who might have taken this course in previous semesters. If you receive help in writing your papers, make sure that the final outcome still represents your own work. You can discuss your papers with your fellow students, but at the end, they need to consist of your own ideas and words! Be advised that the Web is a great search tool, but never, never copy from there without identifying very clearly what you used.  At this point, the scholarly value of web-based material still is not totally reliable, and the chances that you might stumble upon a most dubious webpage with untrustworthy information are very high.  When you quote from a secondary source, clearly identify the quote and tell the reader in a footnote where you quoted from.  Every year more than 100 students at the UA are caught having committed the crime of plagiarism, resulting in penalties that could be as severe as expulsion from the University!  You are smart enough not to copy from other people.

If there is any doubt in your mind whether you might commit plagiarism, see:


Plagiarism and the Web

If you commit plagiarism, you could either receive a 0 on your specific assignment, or an F for the entire course.  Depending on the gravity of the case, you might even be expelled from the University. Every plagiarism case must be reported to the Head of my depart., to the head of your dept., and to the Dean of Students.

Help with writing: The Writing Skills Improvement Program offers a number of valuable workshops at 1201 E. Helen Street.  Please consult with them if you have a need to improve your writing skills (no walk-ins).  For perhaps more immediate help, see the Writing Center (walk-ins allowed). Tel.: 621-5849

Writing Center: The Writing Center is a free resource for UA undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff.  At the Writing Center, a trained peer consultant will work individually with you on anything you're writing (in or out of class), at any point in the writing process from brainstorming to editing. Appointments are recommended, but not required.  For more information or to make an appointment, visit their website at http://thinktank.arizona.edu/programs/thinktank/services/writing, stop by at Nugent Building, main level, or call (520) 626-0530.

How to declare German Studies as your major or minor:  https://german.arizona.edu/declare

Requirements for the major or minor


3 journals: 30% each

attendance and participation: 10%


I’ll collect your journals 3 times per semester. Your attendance in the colloquia is assumed; if you have to miss, please let me know in writing. Excessive, unexcused absences will result in the drop of your overall grade. More than 2 of such absences will lead to an automatic F in this course.

In specific, keep a journal and write ca. 500-600 words or more per week, dealing each time with the respective chapter that we are discussing every Friday. 

A: good journal, full critical discussion, plus questions and creative responses to the text

B: not always full amount of words, few questions, little critical thinking

C: mostly paraphrasing, too short entries, no comments of your own

D: spotty entries, misunderstandings, faulty grammar, spelling

F: few entries, short texts, no personal responses, or worse, no understanding of the text or the task



Jan. 17: Introduction, the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan.

Gothic to Renaissance Art

Jan. 24: Prologue

Jan. 31: Ch. 1-3


Feb. 07: Ch. 4-5


Feb. 14: Ch. 6-8


Feb. 21: 1st journal is due; Ch. 9-10


Feb. 28: Ch. 11-13


March 06: Ch. 14-16


March 07-15 Spring break


March 20: Ch. 17-18


March 27: Ch. 19-20; QUESTIONS (18-20) 2nd journal is due.


April 03: Ch. 21-22: Questions


April 10: Ch. 23-24: Questions


April 17: Ch. 25-26: Questions


April 24: Ch. 27-28: Questions

May 01: Last day of class: ch. 28-29; 3rd journal is due. Please address these questions also: 1. Who is the true protagonist? 2. What does Gottfried say about the nature and meaning of love? 3. What is the relationship between ethics and love? 4. Is this text a utopia? If so, why, if not, why not?


Student Learning Outcomes; By the end of the semester, students will be able to engage critically with this literary masterpiece Tristan, will know how to analyze a longer literary romance, and to write about the central points in a critical fashion. 

Possible changes: The information contained in this course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policies, may be subject to change with reasonable advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.