"And they laughed after all" comedy on the Late Medieval German Stage: With a focus on the Hessisches Weihnachtsspiel and the Innsbrucker Osterspiel the blending of the sacred with the Mundane

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Even though the representatives of the medieval Church seemed to have been adamantly opposed to the expression of humor and laughter, a closer analysis of numerous vernacular plays based on biblical themes reveals that humor mattered much and was utilized strategically to connect the spiritual events with ordinary people's common concerns about their private lives. This paper examines this thesis in light of the Hessisches Weihnachtsspiel, the Innsbrucker Osterspiel, the Erlauer Weihnachtsspiel, the Osterspiel von Muri, and others, where we commonly observe how the element of the numinosum is drastically paired with trivial, mundane statements and actions. This blending of the sacred with the secular obviously served to create laughter and thereby also established a better connectivity between the audience and the spiritual dimension presented on the stage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-59
Number of pages25
JournalMedievalia et Humanistica
Volume2019-January
Issue number44
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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Comedy
Late Medieval Period
Laughter
Connectivity
Private Life
Spiritual Dimension
Medieval Period
Common People

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this

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abstract = "Even though the representatives of the medieval Church seemed to have been adamantly opposed to the expression of humor and laughter, a closer analysis of numerous vernacular plays based on biblical themes reveals that humor mattered much and was utilized strategically to connect the spiritual events with ordinary people's common concerns about their private lives. This paper examines this thesis in light of the Hessisches Weihnachtsspiel, the Innsbrucker Osterspiel, the Erlauer Weihnachtsspiel, the Osterspiel von Muri, and others, where we commonly observe how the element of the numinosum is drastically paired with trivial, mundane statements and actions. This blending of the sacred with the secular obviously served to create laughter and thereby also established a better connectivity between the audience and the spiritual dimension presented on the stage.",
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