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Emotion and taboo. Incest in mediaeval narrative texts

Incest is something "you don't talk about" - incest is narrated. Emotions are constitutive elements of stories about incest that act as interfaces in the narrative syntagm.

Project No. G 308

Nora Hagemann

Incest is a cultural taboo and at the same time a very productive subject in the history of literature from antiquity to modernity. The dissertation project investigates the period of 1200-1600: From a historical perspective incest at that time is primarily related to questions of law, sin and penance.

In literature the subject is negotiated rather differently: We are told about love, sorrow and grief, fear and shame, envy and anger. Emotions, so the main thesis of the project, play a central role in the narrative design, the normative orientation, the communication of the protagonists and on the level of reception.

The primary goal of the analysis is to work out a catalog of feelings that are linked with incest. Major questions are: What emotions do we encounter on which occasions, with which expressions, dynamics and consequences? How do the texts deal with emotions that violate the incest taboo? How are they reflected on the discourse level, in the speech of the figures and the narrator? What functions do emotions have in the progress of action?


German Medieval Studies


Prof. Dr. Ingrid Kasten

PD Dr. Martin Baisch