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Open Access The Transnational and the Transcultural in Medieval German Literature Spatial Identity and Pre-Modern Concepts of Nationhood in the Works of Wolfram von Eschenbach, Gottfried von Straßburg, Rudolf von Ems, and Konrad von Würzburg

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This paper will examine the notion of the transnational and transcultural in a selection of premodern German texts, raising the fundamental question what the concept of ‘nation’ might have been in the past and probing how cultural identity was determined in contrast with other people or social groups. Such an investigation might come just at the right time today when traditional categories of the nation and cultural identity are becoming fluid once again and lose much of their usual conceptual rigidity, although there are many forces across Europe today that fight energetically against the loss of national identities. Hence, we are required to raise the ancient-old question once again what constitutes our identity within what cultural context (religion, language, political community, history, ethics, morality, aesthetics, etc.). We will not need to discuss the political concept of ‘nation’ (‘national’) much in the context of the pre-modern world because true politically determined nations in the modern sense emerged only by the sixteenth and seventeenth century, especially in the age of Absolutism. But this does not release us from the need to investigate carefully what ‘transcultural’ would mean within the larger context of political and linguistic entities clearly separating various countries from each other, and this already in the Middle Ages. After all, this takes us directly to the critical issue of identity that needs to be situated within a specific historical and cultural framework that is constantly subject to changes, and yet survives because of deep roots in the regional or local setting.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • Until a short time ago, in German speaking countries there has neither been a periodical dealing primarly with interdisciplinary research of the Middle Ages, nor has there been a forum for regular publications in other languages. Wishing to close this gap, the journal «Mediaevistik» therefore pursues two aims: 1. To publish research methods and results which deal with studies within the different categories of the Middle Ages as a subject, and 2. to offer a forum for studies in all other important European languages and thus stressing and furthering the internationality of this particular field of research. The time frame is approx. the 8th to the 16th century, corresponding with the geographical boundaries of Latin Christianity in the High Middle Ages.

    All articles in Mediaevistik are published as full open access articles under a CC-BY Creative Commons license 4.0. There are no submission charges and no Article Processing Charges as these are fully funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched, resulting in no direct charge to authors.

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