Ger 278: Online Course

Course materials: GER-278

GER 278: Medieval Answers to Modern Problems: Online Course (Winter 2012/2013)

D2L  and other technical details: The D2L website (login) is:

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INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Albrecht Classen, Dept. of German Studies, 301 Learning Services Building, Office 318; tel. 621-1395;;

The Middle Ages seem to be a period far away from our own times, but any close analysis indicates that the roots of the modern world reach back directly to the medieval period. Many of the questions raised then are also raised today, and we moderns are obviously still confronted with the same problems as people in those distant times were. This course does not intend to build a flimsy bridge between two cultural epochs just because historically we grew out of the older epoch. Instead, there is an understanding of fundamental links between both worlds, and we are well-advised to consider the past in order to understand the present, and hence to prepare us for the future.

This is a literature, history, and philosophy course which satisfies the requirements for General Education, Tier Two, Humanities, dealing with fundamental aspects of human culture in an interdisciplinary fashion, developing critical thinking and interpretive approaches to timeless issues in human life. We will read a range of medieval texts (historical, literary, religious, philosophical) and respond to the authors’ challenges by asking how much their perspectives might illuminate us today. There are several goals for this course: First, I expect you to learn enough about the Middle Ages at large so that you can comprehend the cultural, historical, political, and also economic aspects of the wider context relevant for our primary reading. Second, we will also examine the question what history means to us, and what premodern philosophical, literary, political, and religious texts can teach us today through a reading of a wide variety of primary texts from the Middle Ages. Thirdly, this is a writing-intensive course which requires you to respond to our texts on a regular basis (journal) and to develop an understanding of the messages from the past.

Only one book: Albrecht Classen, Medieval Answers to Modern Problems (University Readers/Cognella, 2011). You can order the book directly from the publisher (which they prefer, and they might give you a cheaper deal):

How to purchase the textbook:

The required book for my GER 278 course, Medieval Answers to Modern Problems (Revised Edition), is published by Cognella Academic Publishing and distributed by University Readers, Inc. The book is now available for purchase in digital format through the University Readers’ student e-commerce store (

I have carefully chosen this book to provide you with the best learning experience. Please purchase it ASAP to stay on top of your readings. Doing so will help you be successful in this class.

The book price is $53.06, and includes readings that we will use in class daily, so you should purchase your own copy. Also, please keep in mind that our institution adheres to copyright law, so any copyrighted material should not be copied or duplicated in any manner.

To purchase the textbook, please follow the instructions below:

Step 1: Log on to

Step 2: Create an account or log in if you have an existing account to purchase.
Step 3: Easy-to-follow instructions will guide you through the rest of the ordering process. Payment can be made by all major credit cards or with an electronic check.
Step 4: After purchasing, you can access your e-book by logging into your account and clicking My Digital Materials to get started on your readings right away.

If you experience any difficulties, please email or call 800.200.3908 ext. 503.

If you use secondary material for your papers, 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, stop by at Nugent Building, main level, or call (520) 626-0530.

How to avoid logical fallacies in your arguments


Attendance of chat rooms is mandatory (always at 8 p.m. MST). Excessive absence can lead to a loss of credits.

5 essays, each ca. 600 words, each counting 20% of your total grade. The first paper can be rewritten after consultation with me.

For each: Title and Thesis: 20 pts., Argument: 50 pts; Conclusion: 20 pts; Stylistics: 10 pts.

Topics: Each text will require you to take a stance. Think about what is the most important aspect in that text, and then formulate a few sentences that should contain your conclusion already in a nutshell. This way you create a thesis. Next write a title for the entire paper, which is even more in a nutshell what you try to say. Then you develop the argument, finding evidence in the text that support your claim/thesis. Once done, formulate a conclusion, in which you try to correspond with the thesis, confirming it.

In other words, each of you will write different papers, but on the same texts, and you will individually develop your arguments/theses, etc.

For the latest research on the Middle Ages, please consult the Handbook of Medieval Studies:

Handbook of Medieval Studies, ed. A. C. (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2010).

Accessibility and Accommodations:

It is the University’s goal that learning experiences be as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options.

Academic Writing: Instructions and Examples


Dec. 17: Hildebrandslied: read the entire text, watch the video

Dec. 18: Hildebrandslied; study the text now again in light of my discussion; chat room meeting at 7 p.m. MST (exception)

Dec. 19: Nibelungenlied: study the first half of the text, watch the first video, and listen to the performance, called Nibelungenlied.Kummer

Dec. 20: Nibelungenlied; read the second part, watch the second video; chat room meeting at 7 p.m. MST (exception)

Dec. 21: Nibelungenlied; complete your reading, watch the third video

Dec. 22: Nibelungenlied; watch the third video; 1st paper is due in the dropbox. Focus either on the Hildebrandslied or the Nibelungenlied chat room, 8 p.m. MST

Dec. 23: Our Lady’s Tumbler

Dec. 24-25: Holiday, no class

Dec. 26: Continue with Our Lady’s Tumbler; Marie de France: The Lay of the Werewolf; chat room meeting at 8 p.m. MST

Dec. 27: Marie de France: Lanval; The Lay of the Two Lovers

Dec. 28 Marie de France: The Lay of Eliduc; 2nd paper is due, either on Our Lady’s Tumbler or on one of the Lays by Marie; chat room meeting at 8 p.m. MST

Dec. 29: Dante: Hell: watch also this video online:

Dec. 30: Abelard: Yea and Nay; chat room meeting at  8 p.m. MST

Dec. 31: Walther von der Vogelweide; watch the video

Jan. 1: Holiday, no class But read Walther, and prepare for your 3rd essay, now due on Jan. 2!

Jan. 2: 3rd paper is due, on Abelard and Walther, or on Walther and Dante, or on Abelard and Dante Christine de Pizan: Poems; chat room meeting at 8 p.m. MST

Jan. 3: Christine: Mutacion

Jan. 4: The Plowman

Jan. 5: 4th paper is due, on Christine (I might have some difficulties grading the papers immediately, depending on my travels that day).  The Plowman; chat room meeting at 8 p.m. MST

Jan. 6: The Plowman

Jan. 7: Marsiglio of Padua; chat room meeting at 8 p.m. MST

Jan. 8: Marsiglio of Padua: last day of class; 5th paper is due, either on The Plowman or on Marsiglio; chat room meeting at 8 p.m. MST for last check-ups, but we could then also meet in person on campus.

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