Professor Annette Volfing Publishes New Book

  • Punishment & Penitential Practices in Medieval German Writing
10 May, 2018

Fellow in Modern Languages Professor Annette Volfing has co-edited a new book, Punishment & Penitential Practices in Medieval German Writing, with Dr Sarah Bowden (Kings College London).

The book brings together essays on a range of Middle High German texts, and focuses particularly on the intersections - semantic, theoretical and theological - between punishment and penance. It considers the ways in which acts of punishment and penance engage the wishes and desires of those inflecting or witnessing them; the legal and theological implications of these acts; and the symbolic and communicative capital of the body.

In addition to co-editing the volume, Annette also contributed an article on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Arthurian romance Parzival, in which she discusses the apparently random public beating of an noblewoman by a male authority figure (the steward Keie). The article examines Keie's supposedly punitive act in relation to gender roles and social normativity, setting out the way in which it impacts on interpersonal dynamics within the wider Arthurian court. The analysis also probes the implicit patriarchal complicity between the narrative voice and the male perpetrator: whilst it is made clear that Keie acted improperly, the lady is implicitly criticised for not accepting what happened and readily forgiving her attacker.

Annette tutors in German at Oriel, and her interests lie in later medieval religious, mystical, philosophical or allegorical writing. She was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2015 in recognition of her outstanding research in medieval German studies.