Honors Colloquium 195J -001. Fall 2023

Course materials:

Honors Colloquium Fall 2023

HNRS 195J–001, Special Topics in Humanities:Reflections on Life: The Late Medieval Poet Heinrich Kaufringer

Covid-19 UoA guidelines

All UA policies pertaining to classes in one location. For my own specifics, see below.

TOPIC: Literary Reflections on Life: The Late Medieval Poet Heinrich Kaufringer

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

CLASSROOM: Mod. Lang. 203; sometimes online, via zoom, set up in D2L, or here:  https://arizona.zoom.us/j/8364585890

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.


Literature carries particular value for our lives because here we encounter a narrative platform for fundamental discussions concerning our ethics, morals, ideals, and values. There are simply non-material situations or conditions in life that demand our full attention, and no science can help us then, such as in the case of love, death, a spiritual experience, or ethical conflicts. This colloquium will serve the purpose of examining this phenomenon in a relaxed but critical academic environment. I want to expose you to a rather unusual author from the early fifteenth century, Heinrich Kaufringer, whose texts I have translated for you into English and whose texts I have studied closely in numerous articles and some books. I believe that he has many messages for us today and tends to provoke us in many different ways. Many times, communication enters the picture as a crucial topic behind the erotic. Kaufringer will make us think in a variety of new ways about life, either making us laugh or cry, protest, or agree with him. And the issues of community and compassion are not far away. Previous students voiced considerable surprise, and then great delight about our readings. I hope you will have a wonderful time in this class and gain much enlightenment, apart from the exposure to the critical assessment of a literary text that is really new to you.

READING MATERIAL: Love, Life, and Lust in Heinrich Kaufringer’s Verse Narratives. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 467. MRTS Texts for Teaching, 9 (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2014), xxvii, 155 pp. Rev. and expanded 2nd ed., 2019. Only the 2nd ed., please.


Engaging with an important collection of verse narratives from ca.1400, almost parallel to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio’s Decameron. We will examine how the German poet dealt with a wide range of issues in human life, commonly viewed through an erotic lens, and learn thereby critical issues of human existence throughout time.

Student Learning OUTCOME:

1. Solid understanding of the late medieval discourse on love, life, God, and values, 2. the ability to discuss central theses critically in class, and 3. a high level of academic writing about these narratives. 4. The final outcome will be a deep concept of profound issues in human life, here seen through a literary-historical lens.


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, and 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 through oral comments and through writing. 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 in 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 1000 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:


or simply consult with me.

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. With journal, I mean critical responses to our discussion and your reading. You should address major issues, examine the text’s unique aspects and strategies, and engage deeply with the class material. You should raise questions and try to respond to them yourself.

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 a meeting, please let me know in writing. Excessive, unexcused absences will result in a drop in your overall grade. More than 2 of such absences will lead to an automatic F in this course.

In specific, keep a journal (critical writing) and write ca. 250 words or more per week, dealing each time with the respective chapter/story that we are discussing every Friday.

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

B: not always a 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

SYLLABUS: Please read each story as part of your homework before class. All of the readings are fairly short, and they are always entertaining, although sometimes the content might be a little surprising, if not shocking. 

Aug. 25: Introduction, the Middle Ages and Renaissance

https://aclassen.faculty.arizona.edu/sites/aclassen.faculty.arizona.edu/files/amt.classen2016_2.pdf (a text I have borrowed in part from Emily Amt and which I have expanded considerably.

Let’s take a quick look at the text and work on these questions:

1. What major forces (political, religious, military) determined the early Middle Ages?

2. What role did the Christian Church play during the medieval period?

3. What was feudalism? (p. 5)

4. What role did cities play since the later Middle Ages?

5. Jews, crusades, cathedrals, monasticism, mysticism

6. The Paradigm Shifts in the late Middle Ages: a, b, c, d. e, f.

The history of love and sexuality through the lens of literature

Sept. 1: We probably will start with the historical overview only today, but be ready to discuss: Merchants in Disagreement

Sept. 8: Why is the topic of communication so important, and what would literary analysis do to help us in that regard? We continue with Merchants in Disagreement, and, time permitting, The Cowardly Husband

Sept. 15: The Cowardly Husband (trigger warning: a violent topic is addressed here)

Sept. 22: The Peasant; The Half Blanket

Sept. 23: The Peasant Who was Falsely Accused (longer story, please take the time to read it all!); and: The Half Blanket; 1st journal (upload to D2l, please)

Sept. 29: The Paid Lawyer (I’ll be out of the country; so, online, please use our zoom link above). If I’ll have a conflict with my other commitments, I will post a number of questions in an email to you. But read the story and reflect upon it; it is a good segue from our story we read last week.

Oct. 6: The Innocent Murderess

Oct. 13: Continued with the Murderess, and Search for the Happily Married Couple

Oct. 20: Continued with the Search, and The Tithe on Love (time permitting)

Oct. 21: 2nd journal

The seven Cs: Communication, Community, Compromise, Commitment, Coordination, Compassion, Collaboration, but then also: Courage and Care.

Oct. 27: We continue with the Search and the Tithe, then turn to Revenge of the Husband

Nov. 3: The Tithe: Why is the husband such an ideal character? Revenge of the Husband? Similar question. The Fur-Lined Blanket

Nov. 10: Veteran’s Day, no class

Nov. 17: The Fur-Lined Blanket, The Mayor and the Prince

Nov. 24: No class, Thanksgiving weekend

Dec. 1: The Hermit and the Angel; and conclude with The Seven Deadly Sins

Dec. 2: 3rd Journal


Student Learning Outcomes; By the end of the semester, students will be able to engage critically with this literary master poet, Kaufringer, and to write about the central points in a critical fashion.

Trigger Warning: These are literary narratives, and some of them contain at times troublesome issues pertaining to violence, sexuality, and crimes. If you have any problems, please let me know so that I can help you.

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.