Maria Dobozy

Maria Dobozy, Professor Emerita, University of Utah

Wednesday, July 17, 2:30-3:30, Arizona Senior Academy Building

Encountering the literature of Europe between 1100-1400 means meeting the ubiquitous minstrels who were essential to literary and cultural life. As professional performers, all minstrels were poets, singers, composers, and instrumentalists who created, adapted and performed literary, musical and theatrical entertainments. As travelers, they were polyglots who served their patrons as reliable messengers and informants. Often branded as pariahs, they were nevertheless capable of functioning politically and artistically within society. By means of their varied performances, minstrels transmitted the traditions and values of medieval European society. They were also capable of innovation–of challenging and restructuring their listeners’ views and expectations.

During the Middle Ages literature was experienced primarily through minstrel performances rather than through written texts. The act of reading a text to oneself—a perfectly ordinary activity to us today— is actually a remarkable development. Instead of reading, people listened to the itinerant minstrels’ performances of songs and stories of all kinds. Academy Village resident Maria Dobozy will reveal to us the lost knowledge of Medieval literary and musical entertainment circulated through the artistic talent and practice of minstrels.

Maria Dobozy in the Historic Zurich Railway Station

A native of Hungary, Maria Dobozy was a professor of German and Medieval Studies at the University of Utah. She earned her Ph.D. in German Studies at the University of Kansas. Dr. Dobozy has held a recurrent professorship at the Central European University in Budapest. She is an expert on German medieval literature and has published on a wide variety of topics in medieval culture and literature. Her books include: Full Circle: Kingship in the German Epic (1985); The Saxon Mirror: A Sachsenspiegel of the Fourteenth Century (1999); and Re-Membering the Present: The Medieval German Minstrel in Cultural Context (2005).

Written by Carol and Donald Gilzinger, Academy Village Volunteers


July 17: “Minstrels and Culture in the Middle Ages: When a Text is Not a Text”