About us

Early Books Lecture Series VIII: Pondering Poetry, Faith, and Games

Illustration from the Codex Manesse or Manessische Liederhandschrift, ca. 1304-1340
Illustration from the Codex Manesse or Manessische Liederhandschrift, ca. 1304-1340

Date: February 8, 2011

Times: 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Location:   Special Collections

Contact: VerĂ³nica Reyes-Escudero

Cost: Free


The University Libraries’ Special Collections is proud to present the Early Books Lecture Series VIII, an annual exploration by University of Arizona (UA) scholars of the treasure trove of medieval texts held by the University Libraries. Throughout the month of February, professors from UA’s German, English and History departments will give their audiences new insights into 13th, 16th and 17th century historic texts.


Today the series’ debut lecture, The Manessische LiederhandschriftThe Glory of Thirteenth-Century Book Illustrations in Southern Germany, will be presented by Albrecht Classen, Professor, UA Department of German Studies.


The year 1200 saw the apogee of medieval German courtly poetry, representing an astounding level of poetic maturity, sophistication, and rhetorical skills. But soon thereafter conditions changed, the value system transformed, or got lost, and traditional ideals were no longer maintained the same way. By the early fourteenth century a group of wealthy Zurich patrons realized that that glorious corpus of German courtly love poetry was in danger of being lost, so they dedicated much money and time to the copying of those songs. The most important manuscript, the Manesse manuscript, contains a treasure trove of the most valuable Middle High German love poetry, accompanied by stunning imaginary illustrations of the poets. A disproportionately large number of modern studies on the Middle Ages has drawn from this manuscript, and it is one of the most important national treasures of Germany today. Professor Classen will introduce and discuss the invaluable facsimile of this manuscript kept in Special Collections, and offer the relevant social-historical context.