Session Title

The Structure of Romance (1150-1220)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Kathryn Starkey

Organizer Affiliation

Stanford Univ.

Presider Name

Kathryn Starkey

Paper Title 1

Déjà Vu All Over Again? On Propp's Morphology of the Folktale and the Bipartite Structure of Romance

Presenter 1 Name

Will Hasty

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Florida

Paper Title 2

Why Does Tristan Have to Die? Structure and Semantics in the French and German Tristan Tradition

Presenter 2 Name

Christian Schneider

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Washington Univ. in St. Louis

Paper Title 3

Perceived Protagonists and Alternative Narrative Structures: Hartmann von Aue's Erec

Presenter 3 Name

Susanne Knaeble, Gráinne Watson

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. Bayreuth, Stanford Univ.

Start Date

16-5-2015 3:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1320

Description

The period from 1150-1220 was a time of innovation and experimentation. Alongside architectural, political, and institutional transformations there was a revolution in literary culture as vernacular literature, which had previously been transmitted orally, started to be written down. This new medium for medieval texts provided novel opportunities for authors and scribes to experiment. The audiences for these works were comprised of both literate and illiterate readers and listeners. We find a wide variety of genres and narrative forms, some of which ultimately failed and others that have remained popular even to the present. One of the most enduring genres that develops in this period is the Romance.

The narrative structure of the Arthurian Romance has been the source of contention and lively scholarly debate for almost a century. The dominant theory for this structure was developed in the wake of the Second World War, and is that of the Doppelweg (double path). It is the idea that the protagonist accomplishes great feats of courage and strength and for that is honored at Arthur’s court, but then shame and dishonor befall him, and he must set out to again prove himself in order to attain the highest honor. On the first path to honor the knight proves his courage and strength, while on the second the inner virtue of compassion dominates. According to this model, the significance of the episodes lies in the repetition of motifs and the gradual self-realization of the hero. It is a model of redemption, and its focus is entirely on the male protagonist.

The Doppelwegstruktur model was developed on the basis of Hartmann von Aue’s Erec, the first Arthurian Romance in German. Based closely on the French Romance Erec et Enide by Chretien, this Romance provides the best example of the Doppelwegstruktur, although even Erec does not conform entirely to the model. Hartmann’s second Arthurian Romance, Iwein, modeled on Chretien’s Yvain, deviates in significant ways from it, and much ink has been spilled trying to identify the Doppelwegstruktur in this and other medieval and late medieval Arthurian Romances. Despite the Doppelwegstruktur’s apparent flaws, and although it has often been criticized, it has nonetheless remained the dominant theory for the structure of the Arthurian Romance, and indeed no alternative model has been proposed.

This session will provide a forum for the exploration of new models of the romance. It will showcase the innovative work done by a team at Stanford University that is working on a digital model of the structure of the Arthurian Romance. Additional papers solicited in the call for papers will provide texture to the discussion.

Kathryn Starkey, Will Hasty, Christian Schneider, Susanne Knaeble, and Gráinne Watson

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May 16th, 3:30 PM

The Structure of Romance (1150-1220)

Schneider 1320

The period from 1150-1220 was a time of innovation and experimentation. Alongside architectural, political, and institutional transformations there was a revolution in literary culture as vernacular literature, which had previously been transmitted orally, started to be written down. This new medium for medieval texts provided novel opportunities for authors and scribes to experiment. The audiences for these works were comprised of both literate and illiterate readers and listeners. We find a wide variety of genres and narrative forms, some of which ultimately failed and others that have remained popular even to the present. One of the most enduring genres that develops in this period is the Romance.

The narrative structure of the Arthurian Romance has been the source of contention and lively scholarly debate for almost a century. The dominant theory for this structure was developed in the wake of the Second World War, and is that of the Doppelweg (double path). It is the idea that the protagonist accomplishes great feats of courage and strength and for that is honored at Arthur’s court, but then shame and dishonor befall him, and he must set out to again prove himself in order to attain the highest honor. On the first path to honor the knight proves his courage and strength, while on the second the inner virtue of compassion dominates. According to this model, the significance of the episodes lies in the repetition of motifs and the gradual self-realization of the hero. It is a model of redemption, and its focus is entirely on the male protagonist.

The Doppelwegstruktur model was developed on the basis of Hartmann von Aue’s Erec, the first Arthurian Romance in German. Based closely on the French Romance Erec et Enide by Chretien, this Romance provides the best example of the Doppelwegstruktur, although even Erec does not conform entirely to the model. Hartmann’s second Arthurian Romance, Iwein, modeled on Chretien’s Yvain, deviates in significant ways from it, and much ink has been spilled trying to identify the Doppelwegstruktur in this and other medieval and late medieval Arthurian Romances. Despite the Doppelwegstruktur’s apparent flaws, and although it has often been criticized, it has nonetheless remained the dominant theory for the structure of the Arthurian Romance, and indeed no alternative model has been proposed.

This session will provide a forum for the exploration of new models of the romance. It will showcase the innovative work done by a team at Stanford University that is working on a digital model of the structure of the Arthurian Romance. Additional papers solicited in the call for papers will provide texture to the discussion.

Kathryn Starkey, Will Hasty, Christian Schneider, Susanne Knaeble, and Gráinne Watson