Humanities Seminar: Medieval Literary Masterpieces, Fall 2023

Course materials:




Humanities Seminar: Masterpieces of Medieval Literature


Instructor: Dr. Albrecht Classen, University Distinguished Professor of German Studies,


Humanities Seminar Page

Fall 2023


Course Objectives: This seminar will examine a range of literary masterpieces from the Middle Ages, focusing on some of the very best literary pearls that carry profound meaning also for us today. although they are often not studied enough. We will read relatively short texts from the ninth through the fifteenth century to gain a sense of the true glory of what pre-modern poets could achieve and what they can tell us until today. There always will be the literary elephant in the room, casting its shadow on our text selection. But Beowulf, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, Dante’s Divina Commedia, or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are both too extensive for our purposes and too well known in many circles. This course will, instead, open our eyes toward true but short masterpieces that you can read easily and then enjoy profoundly.


Course Outline:

All texts are either hyperlinked (Oct. 31, Nov. 28, Dec. 12) and directly accessible, or they are uploaded to HSP Learning Portal. You only need to navigate there, reading material, click on the link, download, and voila.

Oct. 31: Introduction, outline, and our first reading: “Hildebrandslied

Nov. 7: Waltharius Pgs 39-163

Nov. 14: Hartmann von Aue, Poor Henry

Nov. 28: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Dec. 5: Heinrich Kaufringer, tales: The Hermit and the Angel: The Mayor and the Prince, and Merchants in Disagreement

Dec. 12: Christine de Pizan, City of Ladies
Full-length text

Reading List:

All texts available online. No charge.