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Classen, Albrecht
University Distinguished Professor

Dr. Albrecht Classen was born in 1956 near Bad Hersfeld in Northern Hesse. He studied at the universities of Marburg  and Erlangen (Germany), Millersville, PA (USA), Oxford (Great Britain), Salamanca (Spain), Urbino (Italy), and Charlottesville, VA (USA). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1986 and began his career at the University of Arizona in 1987.

He has a broad range of research interests covering the history of German and European literature and culture from about 800 to 1800, but he also pays close attention to contemporary conditions, including politics, religion, economy, sports, and literature. He is also a poet of his own rights and has so far published ten volumes of his own texts in German, most recently: Hawaiische Impressionen (2013), Sonora: harter Klang (2015), and Welterkundungen aus der Neuen Welt: Prosa und Lyrik (2021). Since 2016, he has also published three volumes of essays and satires (such as Amerikanische Satiren, Leipzig: Engelsdorfer Verlag, Die Welt und ich, ein etwas unausgewogenes Verhältnis: Neue Satiren aus deutscher und amerikanischer Sicht, 2020; and Wildgewordenes Amerika: Berichte aus dem Alltag in den wirklich fremden USA und andere Reflexionen (Der Lehrbuchverlag, 2020'; all available through amazon).  He is an active contributor to the literary journal Trans-Lit2, for which he had served as the book review editor from 2012 to 2020. In 2016 he was selected as a member of the PEN-Zentrum deutschsprachiger Autoren im Ausland (PEN Center of German-Speaking Authors Abroad). He is the current president of the Society of Contemporary American Literature in German (SCALG).

His publications (currently 117 books) include a monograph on Oswald von Wolkenstein and his Italian sources (1987), a post-structuralist interpretation of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Titurel (1990), a comparative analysis of 15th-century autobiographical European poetry (Autobiographische Lyrik, 1991), a monograph on the German Volksbuch (1995), a critical investigation of late-medieval songbooks (2001), an extensive investigation of the communicative community as portrayed in Middle High German literature (Verzweiflung und Hoffnung, 2002), a study on a notorious medieval myth (The Medieval Chastity Belt: A Myth-Making Process, 2007), then The Power of a Woman’s Voice in Medieval and Early Modern Literature (2007), Deutsche Schwankliteratur des 16. Jahrhunderts: Studien zu Martin Montanus, Hans Wilhelm Kirchhof und Michael Lindener (2009), and (together with Lukas Richter) Lied und Liederbuch in der Frühen Neuzeit (2010).In 2011 appeared Sexual Violence and Rape in the Middle Ages and Sex im Mittelalter (both monographs). He also published translations of Moriz von Craûn (1992), Tristan als Mönch (1994), Diu Klage (1997), Mai und Beaflor (2006), and the poems by Oswald von Wolkenstein (2008). In 1999 appeared a book on late-medieval secular German women songs, followed by a monograph on religious women songs from the same time period (2002). In 1999, he edited a volume with critical articles, entitled The Book and the Magic of Reading in the Middle Ages. Other volumes that he edited are: Meeting the Foreign in the Middle Ages (2002), Violence in Medieval Courtly Literature (2004), Discourses on Love, Marriage, and Transgression in Medieval and Early Modern Literature (2004), Childhood in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (2005), Old Age in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (2008), Urban Space in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times (2009),  Laughter in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: Epistemology of a Fundamental Human Behavior, Its Meaning, and Consequences (2010), and, most importantly, the 3 volume Handbook of Medieval Studies (2010).  Recently (March 2011) appeared a new volume, Friendship in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, which he edited together with Marilyn Sandidge. In Sept. 2011 also appeared the volume War and Peace, ed. together with Nadia Margolis, in 2012 a volume on Rural Space in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time, and in 2013 a volume on East Meets West  in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time. In 2014 followed a volume on Mental Health, Spirituality, and Religion. In 2015 appeared his monograph on The Forest in Medieval German Literature and a 3-vol. Handbook of Medieval Culture (Walter de Gruyter). This was followed by a new monograph on Reading Medieval Women Literature (2016). His latest research focuses both on ecocriticism (with a book on Water in Medieval :Literature [2017]) and the myth of Charlemagne in medieval German and Dutch literature, forthcoming). Another book on Magic and Magicians in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time appeared in 2017, followed by Toleration and Tolerance in Medieval and Early Modern European Literature. Routledge Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture, 8 (2018), and Eros und Logos: Literarische Formen des sinnlichen Begehrens in der (deutschsprachigen) Literatur vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, ed. Albrecht Classen, Wolfgang Brylla, and Andrey Kotin. Popular Fiction Studies, 4 (Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto, 2018). In Oct. 2018 appeared in print Travel, Time, and Space in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time, ed. A. Classen (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter). His new monograph on Prostitution in Medieval and Early Modern Literature appeared in 2019 (Lexington Books), as well as his book on Pleasure and Leisure in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age (Walter de Gruyter). In Jan. 2020 appeared: Religious Toleration in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age: An Anthology of Literary, Theological, and Philosophical Texts (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2020). His latest books are Charlemagne in Medieval German and Dutch Literature (2021) and Wisdom from the European Middle Ages: Literary and Didactic Perspectives. A Study, Anthology, and Commentary (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2022). His current research focuses on freedom, imprisonment, and slavery in the pre-modern world (book appeared under that title in 2021). Most recently, he published an English translation of short stories by Werner Bergengruen (2021).

In 1996, he held a visiting professorship at the University of Trieste, Italy, and Freiburg, Germany. In the summer of 1999, Prof. Classen served as Rotarian University Teaching Fellow at the Eötvös-Lorand-University, Budapest, Hungary, in November 2001 he was visiting professor at the University of Valencia, and in March 2004 at the University of Sevilla (both Spain). In 2008 and 2010 he was guest professor at Sookmyung Women's University, Seoul, South-Korea, and every summer from 2010 to 2012 at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, UK. He was also guest professor in Helsinki (Finland), Poznan (Poland), Monash/Melbourne (Australia), and Halle (Germany). In Summer 2013 he was guest professor at Rikkyo University, Tokyo (Japan), and in Summer 2014 guest professor at the  L. N. Gumiljov Eurasian National University, Astana, Kazakhstan. In March 2015 he was a guest professor of Keio University, Tokyo, in September 2015 at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, and Bristol University, UK. In July 2016 he was a guest professor at Rikkyo University, Tokyo, once again. In June 2017 and June 2018 he was a guest professor at the University of Zielona Gora in Poland, in June 2018 at the University of Usti nab Labem, in the Czech Republic, and in July 2018 at the University of Graz, Austria. In March of 2019 he was guest professor at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Although a passionate philologist and medievalist, he is also fascinated by modern and medieval literary theory, and applies comparative, ecocritical, and feminist approaches to his research. Since 2010 he is the editor-in-chief of the scholarly journal Mediaevistik, and since 2012 the editor-in-chief of the online journal Humanities Open Access. Since 2021, he is also the editor-in-chief of Humanities and Social Science Research (

At the latest count (Feb. 2021), he has published 117 books, 807 scholarly articles, and ca. 2770 book reviews.

He has published two CD-ROMs with readings of Middle High German and Early Modern German poetry (Chaucer-Studio).

As a result of his passion for teaching, he has won a number of prestigious teaching awards, most recently the Five Star Faculty Award (2009) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 2012 Arizona Professor of the Year Award. The same year he became the Honorary Member of Golden Key International Honour Society, Arizona Chapter. In 2015 he earned the Excellence in Academic Advising Faculty Advisor Award. In 2004, the German government honored him with the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band (Order of Merit), the highest civilian award of merit. He also received the rank of University Distinguished Professor in 2004 for his accomplishments in teaching and research. In 2006, he received the AATG Teacher of the Year Award for the College Level. In 2007, the German community of Borsum made him to its honorary citizen. The South Eastern Medieval Association awarded him a prize in recognition of his research as a medievalist in 2007. In 2009 he won the Henry and Phyllis Koffler Prize for Research, the highest award given by the University of Arizona. In 2012 he was awarded the title "Friend of German Award" from the AATG. In 2016 he received the University of Arizona Excellence in Academic Advising Faculty Advisor Award, and also the NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, Certificate of Merit (Faculty Advising Category). In 2016 he received the Michael Delhoyde Award for Distinguished Contributions in Editing, from the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association. He was knighted as Grand Knight Commander of the Most Noble Order of the Three Lions ( in 2017.  The same year he received the Award for Excellence in Leadership and Service, Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (Oct.). In 2020, the German Academic Exchange Service awarded him with its International Exchange award. In 2021, he received one of the “Tulliola- Renato Filippelli” World Awards of the foreign section E (Premio Mondiale “Tulliola- Renato Filippelli” Vincitori della sezione stranieri),…. In 2021, the College of Humanities at the UoA awarded him with the Chatfield Outstanding Tenured Researcher Award

In 2010 he was elected Vice President and President-Elect of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, completing his third term as President as then the Past President in 2013. The Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association awarded him for his many years of service as Vice-President-Past President with its Sterling Membership in 2013. He was elected Vice President again in 2014 and was the new president (2016), and past president (2017).

In 2011 he also assumed, once again (since 1992, almost continuously), the role of President of the Arizona Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German (until 2019).

He is a dedicated volleyball player and loves bicycling. He also likes ping pong, learning foreign languages, working with international students, taking photos, writing haikus. Follow him on Facebook.

He has published 9 vols. with his own poetry, and 4 vols. of satires and essays.

See his abbreviated Curriculum Vitae

Currently Teaching

GER 160D1 – Eroticism and Love in the Middle Ages

Courtly love was a discovery of the High Middle Ages and became the dominant theme in literature, the arts, philosophy, and even in religion. This course will examine the concept of love as discussed by medieval poets from the 11th through the 15th centuries and cover the wide spectrum of European history culture seen through the lenses of the theme of "love."

GER 502 – Genre as a Category for Organizing Experience

Examination of individual texts in relation to theories of genre, with attention to shifting definitions of genre and resistance to generic categories.

GER 312 – War, Death, and the Hero: Medieval Epics: Beowulf, Nibelungenlied, and Rolandslied

Introduce students to at least three of the most important European/German heroic epics and to challenge them in their thinking about war and death, and the role of the hero.