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Auerbach Lecture | 03.07.2023 | 18 Uhr

Kathryn Starkey (German Studies, Stanford): Die Poetik des Schenkens. Gender, Herrschaft und 'ökonomisches' Handeln in der Heldenepik


The medieval heroic epic constructs archaic societies in which gift-giving is an essential part of the negotiation of social and political relations among ruling elites. Indeed, in the literary worlds of the Nibelungenlied, Kudrun, Ortnit, and König Rother, among others, gift-giving is fraught with anxiety because it is not merely representative of social relations but constitutive of them. Analysis of the heroic epic reveals striking discrepancies between the options available to male versus female figures when it comes to participating in such political practices. Understanding the nuances of gifts and gift-giving in these texts is important both for comprehending their poetic complexity and their specific thematic preoccupation with gender and power.

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