Ger 501: Appropriating and Reshaping the Past: The Tristan in German Literature. Now as an Independent Study

Course materials:

Ger 501: Appropriation of the Past: Tristan und Isolde: Vom Mittelalter bis zum 20. Jahrhundert

Spring 2022: This will be offered as an independent study, with fine-tuned assignments and requirements.

Instructor: Professor Albrecht Classen
Office: 318 LSB (you can always stop by whenever you like), but please wear a mask and watch social distancing

Tel.: 621-1395



Office Hour: TT 9 a.m. – 10 a.m., and after appointment. I am regularly in my office 7/24

In Spring 2022, no in-person office hour. Call or email me, then I’ll open a zoom meeting and let you in. Very flexible hours, always available for you. The link is below the signature line in my email. Or here:

Meeting Time: Wed. 3-5:30 p.m., probably in the LSB conference room on the 3rd floor, 346.

  • Face coverings are required in our classroom: Per UArizona’s Administrative Directive, face coverings that cover the nose, mouth, and chin are required to be worn in all learning spaces at the University of Arizona (e.g., in classrooms, laboratories and studios). Any student who violates this directive will be asked to immediately leave the learning space, and will be allowed to return only when they are wearing a face covering. Subsequent episodes of noncompliance will result in a Student Code of Conduct complaint being filed with the Dean of Students Office, which may result in sanctions being applied. The student will not be able to return to the learning space until the matter is resolved.
    • The Disability Resource Center is available to explore face coverings and accessibility considerations if you believe that your disability or medical condition precludes you from utilizing any face covering or mask option. DRC will explore the range of potential options as well as remote course offerings. Should DRC determine an accommodation to this directive is reasonable, DRC will communicate this accommodation with your instructor.
  • Physical distancing is required in our classroom: During our in-person class meetings, we will respect CDC guidelines, including restricted seating to increase physical distancing.  Any student who does not maintain physical distance from others may be asked to immediately leave the learning space. Noncompliance may result in a Student Code of Conduct complaint being filed with the Dean of Students Office, which may result in sanctions being applied.
  • Classroom attendance:
    • If you feel sick, or may have been in contact with someone who is infectious, stay home (this semester: you are home, I suppose, at any rate). Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others and do not travel.
    • Notify your instructors if you will be missing an in person or online course.
    • Campus Health is testing for COVID-19.  Please call (520) 621-9202 before you visit in person.
    • Visit the UArizona COVID-19 page for regular updates.
  • Academic advising: If you have questions about your academic progress this semester, or your chosen degree program, please note that advisors at the Advising Resource Center can guide you toward university resources to help you succeed.
  • Life challenges: If you are experiencing unexpected barriers to your success in your courses, please note the Dean of Students Office is a central support resource for all students and may be helpful. The Dean of Students Office can be reached at 520-621-2057 or
  • Physical and mental-health challenges: If you are facing physical or mental health challenges this semester, please note that Campus Health provides quality medical and mental health care. For medical appointments, call (520-621-9202. For After Hours care, call (520) 570-7898. For the Counseling & Psych Services (CAPS) 24/7 hotline, call (520) 621-3334.
  • Equipment and software requirements: For this class, you will need daily access to the following hardware: [laptop or web-enabled device with webcam and microphone]; regular access to reliable internet signal; ability to download and run the D2L site (chatroom), and Top Hat LMS.
    • For lecture recordings, which are used at the discretion of the instructor, students must access content in D2L only. Students may not modify content or re-use content for any purpose other than personal educational reasons. All recordings are subject to government and university regulations. Therefore, students accessing unauthorized recordings or using them in a manner inconsistent with UArizona values and educational policies are subject to suspension or civil action.

Course Objectives:
This course examines the meaning of the past for contemporary German literature and culture by way of focusing on one central strand from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, the story of Tristan and Isolde. This has been widely received throughout the ages, and by way of reading representative texts, we can learn how concepts from the past continue to exert a deep influence on us today, especially vis-a-vis the topic of love.

Student Learning Outcomes; By the end of the semester, students will be able to engage critically with the issue of how the literary history of the German Middle Ages has impacted all of German culture well into the present. You will know a solid selection of critical texts from the early 13th, 16th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and will have understood how to produce well-researched papers on the graduate level.

You can consult, in general for background and context:

1. A. Classen, Das deutsche Mittelalter in seinen Dichtungen. 4th ed. (Tucson: Fast Copy, 2009); online at: PDF (free)

2. Die deutsche Geschichte im Mittelalter – online at:

3. Literaturgeschichte – knapper Ueberblick

4. Das Mittelalter, Kultur und Geschichte

5. Literatur von Frauen im Mittelalter

Please make sure that you do not print out any of these class materials on departmental printers. We do not have the money for that and must strictly appeal to the honor system to abide by this rule.

Secondary Reading (recommended):

Gerd Althoff, Die Macht der Rituale: Symbolik und Herrschaft im Mittelalter (Darmstadt: Primus, 2003).
A. Classen, Verzweiflung und Hoffnung. Die Suche nach der kommunikativenGemeinschaft in der deutschen Literatur des Mittelalters. Beihefte zur Mediaevistik, 1 (Frankfurt a.M.-et al.: Peter Lang, 2002).
Michael Mitterauer, Warum Europa? Mittelalterliche Grundlagen eines Sonderwegs (Munich: Beck, 2003).
Horst Wenzel, ed., Gespräche – Boten – Briefe. Philologische Studien und Quellen, 143 (Berlin: Schmidt, 1997).
Hilkert Weddige, Mittelhochdeutsche: Eine Einführung (Munich: Beck, 1996).

See also the bibliography to be handed out in class.


Attendance is a must, there will be only 15 meetings during the semester. I expect you to have read the assigned texts before we meet in class. More than two unexcused absences lead to an automatic E in the course, but simply communicate with me if you have some problems. See also below.


1.Oral report and written version in German: For M.A. students: focus on the primary text only and provide an introduction. For Ph.D. students: critical summaries of at least two recent scholarly articles on one or two of our texts discussed in class: oral report (ca. 10-15 minutes) and written summary, ca. 4 pp.: total: 15% – present orally, i.e., in rough brush strokes, giving us the main thesis, when we discuss that text (7.5%), the written version, expanded, please (with full reflections and a more extensive discussion), needs to be submitted before the end of the semester (7.5 %). Articles can be in English or German (or French, Spanish, Italian, as it so happens), must have been published after 1980, in print or online, must be by a serious scholar, including myself, of course. One of the articles and your summary must be in German. Purpose: we need to learn what various scholars have discovered about our texts. Write always in German.

2. Weekly report of our class discussion in writing (in German), like in a journal, always due every second Fri at 2 p.m., online, ca. 400 words, 7 times, in German. 25%

3. Two exams, with essay questions, 15% each = 30%

4. Final exam, also with essay questions = 30%

Attendance: I expect you to attend all classes. Only serious circumstances and professional reasons would justify an excuse. Remember, we are going to meet only once a week.

All holidays or special events observed by organized religions will be honored for those students who show affiliation with that particular religion. Absences pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean’s designee) will be honored.

Student Behavior:
The policy against plagiarism, etc., is in conformity with the Student Code of Academic Integrity. For policies against threatening behavior by students, see:

Special Needs:
Students with special needs who are registered with the S.A.L.T. Center ( or the Disability Resource Center ( must submit appropriate documentation to the instructor if they are requesting special accommodations.

Suggested additional Reading List (not necessarily in a chronological order, which should also serve you to prepare for the Master Exam, if you want me to be on your committee (which would be my pleasure):

1. Hartmann von Aue: Erec and/or Iwein
2. Nibelungenlied and Kudrun
3. Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan
4. Wolfram von Eschenbach: Parzival and Willehalm –
5. Wernher der Gartenære: Meier Helmbrecht
6. some texts from Der Stricker
7. Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim
8. Mechthild von Magdeburg: Das fließende Licht der Gottheit
9. Hildegard von Bingen
10. Argula von Grumbach
11. Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg
12. Johannes von Tepl, Ackermann
13. Sebastian Brant: Narrenschiff
14. Konrad von Würzburg, Engelhard
15. Elisabeth von Nassau-Saarbrücken (one of her four novels)
16. Thüring von Ringoltingen, Melusine
17. Fortunatus
18. Neidhart
19. Herzog Ernst
20. Oswald von Wolkenstein
21. Heinrich Kaufringer (Auswahl)
22. Minnesang (Walther von der Vogelweide, Johann von Botenlauben, Albrecht von Johannsdorf, Heinrich Morungen, etc.)
23. Heinrich Wittenwiler: Ring
24. Mai und Beaflor
25. Mauritius von Craun
26. Herzog Ernst
27. Georg Wickram
28. Hans Sachs
29. Martin Luther
30. Till Eulenspiegel

31. Sebastian Brant

32. Thomas Murner

33. Hans Wilhelm Kirchhof
34. Frau Ava

35. Hildegard von Bingen

36. Ulrich Bonerius


This class will be conducted mostly in German (in spoken and written form).

Week 1: Intro (1-12-22)

Jan. 19, 26, Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23: Gottfried von Strassburg

March 2, 9, 16: Hans Sachs (alle diese Texte verlinkt, unten)

March  23, 30: Richard Wagner

April 6, 13, 20, 27: Thomas Mann

May 4: if possible: conclusion with Wilhelm Schaefer

Requirements: Reading of those texts in German, active participation in the meetings, keeping a journal, submit every 2-3 weeks (ca. 4-5 pp., reflecting on the meeting and discussion), with the final journal a bit more comprehensive, in class exams, and final.

(Ludwigslied: not this semester:

Reading List:

1. Gottfried von Straßburg: please purchase this title in the bookstore.

Tristan und Isolde : Roman ; [mit dem Werkbeitrag aus Kindlers Literatur-Lexikon] / Gottfried von Straßburg. In der Übertr. von Dieter Kühn
Gottfriedvon Straßburg,i-1200 ; Kühn, Dieter,i1935-2015 [Übers.]
Ungekürzte Ausg.
Frankfurt am Main : Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verl., 2008
667 S. ; 19 cm
Fischer ; 90014 : Fischer Klassik
Werktitel der Teile/  
Tristan, -, dt.

ISBN 9783596900145

All other titles are available online below, for educational purposes only.

2. Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde (English summary)

3. Thomas Mann, Tristan

4. Schaefer.AnckemannsTristan.1a

4a. Schaefer.AnckemannsTristan.pp.40.41

4b. Schaefer.AnckemannsTristan.2

5. Hans Sachs 1

5a. Hans Sachs 2

(Hartmann von Aue: moderne ZusammenfassungHistorische Balladen I

Historische Balladen II; nicht dieses Semester)