Abstract Dr. Felix Hinz (Hildesheim): The Crusades in Novels: from the Enlightenment to the Present

Abstract Dr. Felix Hinz (Hildesheim): The Crusades in Novels: from the Enlightenment to the Present

Historical culture has a significant impact on the society’s views of history. Although historical novels as well as historical films represent the largest proportion of historical culture, the research of historical novels is left to a great extend to German philology up to now. At this point, there is a need for action in the teaching of history.

Historical novels, especially historical novels for young adults, have had an educational intention since they emerged in the period of Enlightenment. They therefore always reflect political movements more than other text genres (including historical novels which don’t have adults as target group) allowing conclusions to be drawn upon social attitudes and states.

The lecture shall be limited to literature published in German, but the essential elements shall also be put into relation particularly with trends of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, as these mostly were and are translated into German. This collection of written works contains 116 German novels from the Enlightenment to the present which broach the issue of Crusades to the Holy Land.

Essential themes of the lecture will deal with questions like: In which way do self-perception and perception of the other play a role in historical novels? What are they dealing with and how does the content change over time? How are political events from former times reflected in the parabolic novels? To what extend did the idea of crusades secularize when novels just came into being and how was this reflected in the novels? How do originally German works differ from translated novels?

Special attention will be turned to the character of Sultan Saladin (cf. lecture of Jonathan Phillips) who is presented in the novels as knight par excellence while he is serving as a moral and religious example for crusaders and a bridge to intercultural communication (cf. lecture of Andreas Körber). It is also striking that only few, exclusively modern, novels try to enable a profound understanding of the Islam. There is a need for explanation in the context of the current political issues. Furthermore, the role the Holy City of Jerusalem has played in the German History of Crusading will have to be dealt with. Finally the question arises how the two German dictatorships, the separated Germany of the post war years, the united Germany and the “Western World” coped literarily/in the literature with the theme of Crusades which conclusions can be drawn from the point of view of teaching history.