2 thoughts on “Michael Curschmann

  1. Marina S. Brownlee

    What a splendid colleague we have lost! Michael Curschmann has long been recognized internationally for his incisive and wide-ranging scholarly contributions. A pillar of Medieval Studies for many years at Princeton, he was also a kind and humble man.

  2. Earl Jeffrey Richards

    As a undergraduate “University Scholar” I was able to attend my first graduate seminar with Prof. Curschmann in the second semester of my sophomore year – he was also my “University Scholar” adviser. I had the wonderful opportunity, indeed the rare honor, to attend at least one seminar of his every year for the rest of my time at Princeton, including my years as a graduate student – it must have been at least seven. I remember vividly how incredibly rich the reserved readings for each different seminar were, whether the topic was courtly romance, the Nibelungenlied, or Salman und Morolf. He sought to convey to his students the richness of medieval German culture in a much wider European context. He insisted that we know the current state of research on any number of questions ranging from elite to popular culture. He often used the phrase that we students should take these materials to heart – sich diese Sachen zu Gemüte führen – and he meant that we needed and still need to internalize the rich materials and traditions that he wanted us to understand, but to do this critically and not emotionally. The phrase he used is self-consciously ironic in German, because it substitutes unexpectedly and provocatively the term temperament or mind (Gemüt) for heart (Herz). In terms of medieval German studies it was a profoundly nuanced but deliberate way of telling students not to romanticize, as Wagner did, the Middle Ages. It was an appeal to what is now called the empirical turn championed by digital humanities. I am not always sure that some of his students appreciated the subtleties of his always precise, always elegant German. And here I would end that he conveyed the richness of medieval European culture with commitment, modesty and warmth. He will be greatly missed.
    Jeff Richards, A.B., ’74, Ph.D., ’78

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