Von tapferen Löwen

Ein didaktischer Blick auf ‚Medieval Animal Studies‘


The Middle Ages are underrepresented in current German secondary school curricula. To overcome the dilemma between a marginalisation in the educational curricula and a popular cultural interest in the epoch, it would be helpful to integrate current social debates into the teaching of the Middle Ages. A pressing topic today – also in the context of the climate crisis and the resulting imperative of sustainability – is the relationship between humans and animals. This article attempts to show how fruitful recent approaches in Human–Animal Studies can be for teaching the Middle Ages in secondary school. It aims to show that integrating medieval sources in the classroom, inspired by Human–Animal Studies, can help to demonstrate the constructedness and fictionality of the human–animal relationship, thus strengthening animals in their subjectivity and their possibilities of action, ultimately promoting an attitude of critical reflection towards students’ own presuppositions, categorisations, and behavioural patterns. The paper highlights the po­tentials of this approach using the example of the lion in Felicitas Hoppe’s ‘Iwein Löwenritter’ and Hartmann’s von Aue ‘Iwein’.


Didactics, Human–Animal Studies, 'Iwein', Lion, Zoocentrism