New fables for a New World: Burkard Waldis’s Aesopian Fable Collection

Friday, September 29, 2017 2:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

In 1548 Burkard Waldis published his version of an Aesopian Fable collection. The title promises Aesopian fables “completely renewed” with a hundred “new fables” never published before. What the ‘new’ entails is never established by the author, but an analysis of the text shows that it challenges our modern understanding of the fable. Waldis presents tales that follow a typical fable format: short little stories with animals followed by a short sentence with a moral lesson.

However, Waldis also presents long stories featuring human actors stories told from a first-person perspective, as well as songs, proverbs, quotes from the Bible and from classical authors. In this talk I argue that the diversity Waldis’s text gathers under the concept of the fable can be understood as a way of dealing with the overwhelming experience of a fast-changing world: new technologies like the printing press, new religious points of view, the growing influence of money economy, war, and so on. Waldis’s text presents a critical point of view about the world that “everybody calls new now”. His medium of choice for giving advice for such a world is an old one: the fable.

Cosponsored by The Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, Medieval Studies, and the SJU D.R.A.G.E.N. Lab.

For more information, please contact Ann Marie Rasmussen.

About the Speaker

Inci Bozkaya is a research assistant at the University of Mannheim, in Germany, and specializes in Medieval Studies.