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A Law Unto Himself: Tristanian Jurisprudence in Gottfried's Tristan

Goldblatt, Noah Dylan
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Goldblatt, Noah Dylan
Bennett, Benjamin
Ogden, Amy
McDonald, William
Spearing, Anthony
This dissertation analyzes literary jurisprudence in Gottfried’s Tristan and explicates the poem as an exemplar of Grimm’s theory of medieval law-poetry. This study examines how Gottfried dramatizes the institutions and practices of law, such as feudal tenure, judicial combat, and evidentiary debate. Chapter One traces the history of Gottfried’s Tristan as an object of study for law-in-literature research. The chapter also analyzes the poet’s relationship to and distinction from the Arthurian tradition. Chapter Two investigates legal discourse relating to the intersection of geography and authority in the poem. The chapter explicates scenes related to property transmission and contractual obligations. Chapter Three examines the juridical language and logical structures of judicial duels in the cases of Morgan and Morold. Chapter Four discusses the scrutiny of direct and indirect evidence in three scenes: The Seneschal and the Dragon Tongue, Isolde and the Sword Splinter, and the Flour on the Floor. The fourth chapter also elucidates the manner in which Tristan and Isolde rhetorically manipulate the presentation of evidence in order to deceive King Mark and his surrogates, Marjodoc and Melot. In sum, this dissertation argues that Gottfried’s juridical language gives definition to a model of jurisprudence characterized by legal efficacy, rational thought, and individual judgement.
University of Virginia, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, PHD, 2014
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