German 205: The Sacred: Images, Texts, Theories

Instructor: Niklaus Largier and Beate Fricke

Also offered as Comparative Literature 212/ History of Art 258

The Sacred has become a key term in recent debates in a number of disciplines. However, what is at its core is often astonishingly undefined, open and ambivalent. Important theories of the Sacred have been articulated in the 20th century by Otto, Eliade, Caillois, Benjamin, Bataille, Auerbach, Feigel, Girard, Ricoeur, Smith, Agamben. In this course we will discuss a range of medieval and early modern images and texts in order to understand the notion of the sacred – in the past and today. Starting with medieval concepts of the sacred we will also explore modern theories of the sacred. Crossing the threshold between pre-modern and modern examples will help us to understand the premises for the visual culture involving sacred images, and more generally the sacred in medieval and modern texts. Topics that will be touched on in the course will include medieval visual culture, medieval spirituality, mysticism, visual exegesis, icons and their meanings, as well as the material, visual and theoretical aspects of sacred places, images and texts.

  • Elective Requirement: This course fulfills the elective requirement for the DE in REMS.