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Humanities 2015, 4(4), 676-701; doi:10.3390/h4040676

Transcultural Experiences in the Late Middle Ages: The German Literary Discourse on the Mediterranean World—Mirrors, Reflections, and Responses

Department of German Studies, The University of Arizona, Learning Services Building 301, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Academic Editor: Bernd Fischer
Received: 11 September 2015 / Revised: 5 October 2015 / Accepted: 10 October 2015 / Published: 20 October 2015
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Abstract

As recent scholarship has demonstrated, the world of the Mediterranean exerted a tremendous influence not only on the societies and cultures bordering the Mediterranean Sea during the late Middle Ages, but had a huge influence on the mentality and culture of the world north of the Alps as well because it was here where East and West met, exchanged ideas and products, and struggled to find, despite many military conflicts, some kind of transcultural. The highly complex conditions in the Mediterranean realm represented significant challenges and promises at the same time, and no traveler from Germany or England, for instance, whether a merchant or a pilgrim, a diplomat or an artist, could resist responding to the allure of the Mediterranean cultures. The corpus of travelogues and pilgrimage accounts is legion, as scholars have noted already for quite some time. But we can also observe literary reflections on the Mediterranean especially during the fifteenth century. The emergence of the late medieval and early modern prose novel is often predicated on transcultural experiences, whether they entailed military conflicts or peaceful encounters between Christians and Muslims. These literary texts did not necessarily respond to the historical events, such as the fall of Constantinople in 1453, but they document an intriguing opening up of German, English, French, and Flemish, etc., society to the Mediterranean world. The prose novels discussed in this paper demonstrate that Germany, in particular, was a significant hinterland of the Mediterranean; somewhat farther apart, but still closely connected. The literary evidence will allow us to identify how those transcultural encounters were recognized and then dealt with. View Full-Text
Keywords: the Mediterranean; transcultural experiences; late medieval German prose novels; Königin Sibille; Melusine; Pontus und Sidonia; Fortunatus; Ottomans; crusades; travel experience; Elisabeth von Nassau-Saarbrücken; Thüring von Ringoltingen; Eleonore of Austria the Mediterranean; transcultural experiences; late medieval German prose novels; Königin Sibille; Melusine; Pontus und Sidonia; Fortunatus; Ottomans; crusades; travel experience; Elisabeth von Nassau-Saarbrücken; Thüring von Ringoltingen; Eleonore of Austria
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Classen, A. Transcultural Experiences in the Late Middle Ages: The German Literary Discourse on the Mediterranean World—Mirrors, Reflections, and Responses. Humanities 2015, 4, 676-701.

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