This dissertation investigates early modern European musical/dramatic narratives of the ancient Germanic chieftain Arminius, a figure onto which cultural discourses and images of Germanness continue to imprint themselves today. Just as modern historians characterize the post-Westphalian Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as an active (if not always amicable) interdependence between the states and the imperial institutions, so do the Arminius narratives of this era demand re-evaluation apart from the nineteenth-century nationalistic ideologies that have colored the figure's reception. This investigation accordingly contextualizes the Arminius figure in the company of the Holy Roman Emperor as well as the German princes whose sovereignty had received official confirmation after 1648. The first part explores the notion of a Roman-German identity as it relates to the Habsburg dynasty's self-representations, and the ways in which an understanding of this duality affects interpretations of operatic/dramatic works on the subject of Arminius that were dedicated to representatives of the Habsburg family or performed in territories where Habsburg influence was immediate. The second part turns to the princes of the Empire and considers how narratives of Arminius and the ancient Germanic tribes function within contexts of political particularism. Through concepts linked with geographical space, the continuity of ancestral ties, and the essential nature of the German character, these works construct and advocate cohesive notions of an imagined German social identity among their audiences while also upholding the affirmed freedom of the princes. A series of case studies (focused on the performance of Arminius narratives at various courts) builds on a referential network between the cultural reception of the figure (including the legacies of the ancient Germanic peoples in general) and other literary, pedagogical, and pictorial sources that were produced for the benefit of German princes. The case studies reveal the complex and sometimes contradictory ways in which these narratives interacted with contemporary political and cultural worldviews concerning the manifestation of the German nation within the Holy Roman Empire. The dissertation contains a substantial annotated catalog of musical/dramatic works on the subject of Arminius.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2012. Major: Germany studies. Advisor: James A. Parente Jr., 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 409 pages, appendices A-B.
Skarsten, Roger Christian.
Singing Arminius, imagining a German Nation:narratives of the liberator Germaniae in Early Modern Europe.
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