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GERM4103 - Wolfram von Eschenbach's 'Parzival'

Value: 0.5 course unit / 30 MA credits
MA module code: GERMG008
Tutor: Dr Sebastian Coxon
Teaching structure:
Assessment for GERM4103: one assessed 2,500 word essay (50%); and one unseen two-hour examination (50%).
Assessment for GERMG008: one assessed 6,000 word essay (100%).
Available to: Final Year students and MA students


Module Description:

Wolfram von Eschenbach is acknowledged to be one of the greatest poets of the German Middle Ages, perhaps the greatest, and as a narrative writer he can stand comparison with Chrétien de Troyes, Dante and Chaucer. Parzival, an adaptation of Chrétien’s Arthurian and Grail romance Le Conte du Graal, is a work of astonishing depth and complexity which is further distinguished by a forceful and interventionist narrator-figure who engages in lively debate with his subject matter and above all with his readers (or listeners).

The module will focus on the medieval German text of Parzival in its entirety. We will refer to Wolfram’s treatment of his French source (of which passages may be read in English translation) and will set him in his historical context - literary, political, social and religious. Topics to be covered will include narrative strategies, codes and techniques; history and fictionality; ideologies of chivalry and nobility; gender; courtly culture; religious belief.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Wolfram von Eschenbach: Parzival, on the basis of Karl Lachmann’s 6th ed., with introduction by Bernd Schirok and translation by Peter Knech (Berlin / New York, 1998) ‘Parzival’: Wolfram von Eschenbach, translated by A. T. Hatto (London, Penguin Classics, 1980).
  • Joachim Bumke, Wolfram von Eschenbach, 8th ed. (Stuttgart, Sammlung Metzler 36, 2004).
  • Ulrike Draesner, Wege durch erzählte Welten. Intertextuelle Verweise als Mittel der Bedeutungskonstitution in Wolframs ‘Parzival’ (Frankfurt, Mikrokosmos 36, 1993).
  • D. H. Green, The Art of Recognition in Wolfram’s ‘Parzival’ (Cambridge, 1982).
  • Arthur Groos, Romancing the Grail. Genre, Science, and Quest in Wolfram’s ‘Parzival’ (Ithaca, New York, 1995).
  • Timothy McFarland, ‘The Emergence of the German Grail Romance. Wolfram von Eschenbach: Parzival’, in: The Arthur of the Germans: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval German and Dutch Literature, eds W. H. Jackson and S. A. Ranawake (Cardiff, Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages 3, 2000) pp. 54-68.