Learning through Entertainment in the Frauenzimmer Gesprächspiele


  • Monet Colomb University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Harsdörffer, Frauenzimme Gespraechspiele, Learning Theories


The Thirty Years’ War left Germany and accustomed to a life of war, where violence was more predominant than social chivalry. To unify and strength Germany, the society had to rebuild itself once more. A distinguished German polymath and writer, Georg Philipp Harsdörffer, sought to reconstruct and sophisticate Germany’s society in the 17th century through education. He was a member of the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft, a German literary society, that promoted to standardize German and “useful learning” as reflected in his eight volume collection, Frauenzimmer Gesprächspiele. This collection is an assortment of parlor games that depict aristocratic young men and women engaging in conversations on a wide arrange of subjects. Karin Wurst analyzes these parlor games by recrafting the “useful learning” through “learning by entertainment.” She argues that the entertainment aspect encourages the audience of the collection to learn effectively on the respective subjects. This article specifically expands on Wurst’s analysis and focuses on the four of the parlor games, in terms of their learning methods: situated learning, experiential learning, and discursive learning and its relation to the integration of cultural practices on the education of social etiquette in early modern German society. The combination of the learning methods creates a communicative and affective environment by employing multiple senses that additional teaches the audience of the Frauenzimmer Gesprächspiele to learn and experience appropriate social behavior. The learned behavior with the education on various discourses discourages a life of war and endorses a more sound and rational political infrastructure.


Author Biography

Monet Colomb, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

I'm in the German department and I am a second year Master's student.