Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Wertheimer, Laura

Subject Headings

Hrotsvitha, ca. 935-ca. 975, Hrotsvit, Gandersheim


Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, a poetess and playwright during the tenth century, created a body of work that both reflected and instructed people in her society. During this period, Europe witnessed extensive societal changes including the reemergence of the Holy Roman Empire, the eastward expansion of Christianity, and a cultural development known as the Ottonian Renaissance. The imperial court, emphatic sponsors of the arts, approved of the legends, dramas, and histories written by Hrotsvit as Christian alternatives to popular pagan literature. The following text presents interpretations of the legends and dramas identifying how they functioned as didactic devices intended to cultivate particular perceptions of non-Christians while simultaneously providing an idealistically defined Christian society. A new translation of her preface to the dramas confirms the argument that Hrotsvit had intended visual productions of her dramas while grammatical analyses of the legends and dramas further support the position of oral deliveries. Transmitted orally, the works could then reach the largely illiterate population without compromising the aesthetic appeal appreciated by the elites. Investigations into the sources Hrotsvit may have used and the changes she made enable a better understanding of how one woman, representing the aristocratic and religious communities, envisioned her world

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