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Title:The Magician in Medieval German Literature
Author(s):Sherman, Jon B.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Claudia Bornholdt
Department / Program:Germanic Languages and Literatures
Discipline:Germanic Languages and Literatures
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Germanic
Abstract:"The Magician in Medieval German Literature" is an exploration of a number of issues related to magic and learning in vernacular German fiction from the Middle Ages. A close reading of medieval German narratives reveals that since magic was labeled demonic and unchristian by early Church Fathers, German authors in the Middle Ages were forced to adopt a number of strategies to characterize those who studied and used it. These strategies either alienated and marginalized magicians, so that they appear only on the geographic or socio-cultural periphery of medieval narratives, or they furthered the medieval Church's tenet that all magic is demonic and inherently dangerous. Conversely, the omnipresent association of magic with any number of ideas connected to knowledge and learning---especially in the science-magic pairs of astronomy/astrology, chemistry/alchemy and in the study of medicine---caused some authors to recast magic as a science or field of study. This can also be seen in the more general associations of magic with reading, foreign languages and Arabic learning, and even in the nebulous boundary between religion and magic. This study demonstrates that in medieval German literature the figure of the magician becomes a focal point for a literary debate, with the majority of authors taking a position suspicious of magic and either relegating it to a marginal position within their narratives or wholly demonizing it. Some few authors, however, challenged this notion and used magic to address the boundaries of learning, knowledge and education and to praise the merit and potential of all study, magical or otherwise.
Issue Date:2008
Description:241 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3347509
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2008

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