A Jew Reads Minnesang: ‘Joseph Ha-Tsadik’ and the Yiddish Reception of German Courtly Poetry
The talk examines a fourteenth-century Yiddish poem that retells the story of the patriarch Joseph and the wife of Potiphar. It is primarily based on Hebrew and Aramaic midrashic and liturgical sources but it also incorporates elements derived from German courtly love poetry and uses them mainly to express to Potiphar's wife's seductive advances toward Joseph. The poem can thus be read as a Jewish dialogue with Christian secular literary traditions. Drawing on a comparison with the Jewish pretexts and a number of examples from Minnesang, and focusing on aspects such as gender, poetics, and performativity, I analyze the strategies of both participation in and (ironic) distancing from the Christian courtly discourse.
Jan Hon is a Feodor Lynen Research Fellow at UC Berkeley's Department of German. He holds a PhD in German Medieval and Slavic Studies from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Germany) and focuses mainly on German, Czech, and Yiddish medieval and early modern literatures and on the intercultural relations in medieval and early modern Central Europe. He has published a comparative monograph on sixteenth-century German and Czech prose novels, a number of essays on medieval and early modern translation, several book chapters on the role of the printing press in late medieval and early modern literature, and a recent essay on pragmatic aspects of late medieval vernacular hagiography. He is a co-author of a comparative edition of the popular late medieval heroic epic ‘Laurin’ in its German, Czech, Danish, and Faroese adaptations. At UC Berkeley, Jan Hon is currently working on his second book with the working title ‘Narrative Media of Salvation’ in which he explores the role narration played in the context of medieval religious practices.
The Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies will complete this year's Wednesday lunch-talks series via Zoom at 12:00 noon (Pacific Standard Time). Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link.