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A literary and rhetorical examination of the depiction of Luther's monastic period in Peter Manns's Martin Luther

Alderson, Michael Peter (2004) A literary and rhetorical examination of the depiction of Luther's monastic period in Peter Manns's Martin Luther. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Much historical writing before the nineteenth century was produced with little historiographical consciousness and sought to 'tell the story'. The nineteenth century, however, saw a shift in historical writing mainly as a result of the work of Ranke; his legacy has been far reaching and many historians continue to write in the post-Rankean tradition, aiming essentially to depict the past wie es eigentlich gewesen. As suggested by several theorists, notably Hayden White, post-structuralism questions whether this is possible or indeed desirable and argues that there is a correlation between the historian's view and narrative emplotment. In light of this, post-structuralist critics argue that historical writing may be subjected to the same analysis as figurative writing. Nevertheless, while theories have been produced regarding the emplotment of historical writing and its correlation to the author's ideological view, few, if any, studies have combined historiography with detailed nanatological analysis. Luther's monastic years are problematical as the subject of historical writing, as while they seemingly played a significant role in Luther's development, documentary evidence on the period is scant. The historian must compensate for this lack of documentary fact and create a narrative which tallies with this deterministic emplotment. As such, Luther's monastic period represents an ideal candidate for such rhetorical analysis. Regarded as an influential and groundbreaking biography, Manns's Martin Luther represents an important step in historical writing on Luther's life, showing a significant development in the Catholic understanding of the reformer. By analysing the treatment of key episodes in exemplar texts, narrative traditions can be identified and through comparison with Manns, an ecumenical shift emerges on a conceptual and a rhetorical level in how a polemical figure from the past can be understood and represented.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2004
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 10:03

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