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"The Other Half of the Pear: Gender Studies and the Problem of Obscenity in Die halbe Birne (thirteenth century, Konrad von Würzburg?)"



Ann Marie Rasmussen


Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 12:30pm


Room 260-252 (Pigott Hall)



"The Other Half of the Pear: Gender Studies and the Problem of Obscenity in Die halbe Birne (thirteenth century, Konrad von Würzburg?)"

The obscene, rhymed couplet text, Die halbe Birne, has only recently become the object of sustained scholarly attention. Although four (of five) surviving manuscripts name as its author the prolific, Basel-based writer, Konrad von Würzburg (c.1225-1287), scholarship has rejected this attribution because the text’s obscenity is held to be irreconcilable with the high moral character of Konrad’s surviving works. Recent scholarship on Die Halbe Birne is largely silent on the text’s comedic features and its depiction of flagellation, and struggles to find a gender studies paradigm that can account for the text not as a depiction of virtuous masculine sexual continence but rather as a send-up of it. This talk presents an interpretation that focusses instead on understanding the gender roles in the text from the perspective of the story’s comedically-staged obscenity. 
Ann Marie Rasmussen joined the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) on January 1, 2015 as the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker Memorial Chair in German Literary Studies after have been a faculty member in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature at Duke University in North Carolina for twenty-five years. She was born and raised in the southern Willamette Valley of Oregon, received her BA from the University of Oregon and her PhD from Yale  University, both in the field of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Her areas of expertise are medieval studies, German studies, and gender studies. She is the author of Mothers and Daughter in Medieval German Literature (1997); and coeditor of Medieval Woman’s Song (with Anne Klinck, 2002); Ladies, Whores, and Holy Women: A Sourcebook in Courtly, Religious, and Urban Cultures of Late Medieval Germany, with Introductory Essays (with Sarah Westphal-Wihl, 2010), and Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde (with Jutta Eming and Kathryn Starkey, 2012), as well as numerous essays. Last year she completed a book-length manuscript on medieval badges.