Imagining the text: ekphrasis and envisioning courtly identity in Wirnt von Gravenberg's Wigalois Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Brown, James Hamilton
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • This study investigates the multiple functions of the rhetorical device ekphrasis - the verbal representation of a visual representation - in Wirnt von Gravenberg's thirteenth-century verse romance Wigalois, one of the most popular and enduring Arthurian romances in the Middle High German literary tradition. The dissertation explores how the numerous ekphrastic descriptions provide narrative and thematic structure, harmonize potential conflicts in the text, and contribute to the construction of courtly identity. An examination of Wigalois manuscripts ranging from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries offers a new interpretation of Wigalois that takes into account the fluidity of the text in its material environment. The study thus elucidates the close connections between ekphrasis and medieval literary culture; demonstrates that the vibrant symbiosis of word and image is a crucial factor in explaining the poem's sustained popularity and unbroken line of transmission for more than six hundred years; and contributes to the history of the book and to the historicization of medieval and modern modes of perception.
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  • Starkey, Kathryn
  • Open access

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