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Barbara Newman
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL 60208-0001)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2004 – 8/31/2005

Frauenlob's "Marienleich": A Goddess-Hymn from Medieval Germany

My project is a poetic translation, with introduction and commentary, of the Marienleich by the German poet-composer Frauenlob, also known as Heinrich von Meissen (d. 1318). It is to be published, by prior agreement, with a musical recording of the hour-long piece by the ensemble Sequentia. The Marienleich, regarded as the masterpiece of this late minnesinger, is a formally and philosophically daring poem composed in twenty strophic pairs, employing a complex musical/poetic form modeled on the Latin sequence. It celebrates the Virgin Mary in boldly erotic and esoteric fashion: she is not only the mother of God, the bride of the Song of Songs, and the Woman clothed with the sun, but also a cosmic creator-goddess who subsumes features of the goddess Natura celebrated by twelfth-century Latin poets. Since Frauenlob is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, I mean to introduce him into the current medieval canon by producing an accessibly priced paperback suitable for classroom use.