The Tale of the Kölbigk Dancers: Transmissions, Translations, and Themes

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Book Chapter

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The tale of the cursed dancing carolers circulated broadly throughout medieval Europe and yet has not circulated as broadly in Anglophone scholarship on medieval dance, history, literature, or religion. The chapters in The Cursed Carolers in Context investigate several of the many texts that transmit the story of the Kölbigk dancers and the medieval and early modern contexts in which they circulated. By analyzing the story in specific historical contexts, the chapters show how the story of the cursed carolers became a space in which medieval readers, writers, and listeners could debate the meaning and significance of a surprising variety of questions, including ecclesiastical authority, gender roles, pastoral responsibility, and even the conduct of crusades. This consideration of the interplay between text and context sheds new light on how and why the story of the dancers achieved such popularity in the Middle Ages and how its meanings developed and changed throughout the period. This broad overview of the contexts and meanings of the cursed carolers narrative sets the chapters that follow on firm footing, while an overview of manuscripts and scholarship provides a resource not yet accessible in Anglophone scholarship.

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The Cursed Carolers in Context

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