History and Culture of the German-Speaking Countries
About this Module
This module aims to introduce you to some of the key historical influences that have shaped the culture of the German-speaking countries. The course stresses the fact that history and culture are inseparably entwined. In any given year, TWO topic areas will be offered, selected from: Nature and technology in German/Austrian culture; The Concept of 'Nation' and the problematic nature of German nationhood; How German Nationalism saw and used history; Berlin in the 20th and 21st centuries. A range of materials in various media is studied, including historical texts, fiction, poetry, film, visual art, monuments and architecture.
Topics offered in 2012-13:
Term One: Nature and technology in Germanic culture
This seminar investigates a dualistic feature of the Germanic psyche over the last two hundred years or so: on the one hand, the passion for nature and all things natural, which culminated in the reform movement of back to nature and the foundation of the world’s first Green Party; on the other, the passion for nature’s polar opposite, the thing which tames, domesticates, and sometimes even destroys nature: high-powered technology in all its forms, from fast cars to clever chemistry and nuclear power stations. We shall be looking at a wide variety of materials which exemplify this dualistic orientation: stories, poems and and films, historical documents and images, political manifestoes and newspaper reports. And we shall cover themes such as the national cult of the forest, time, space and the introduction of the railways, factories and mass production, nuclear power, evolution, and the eco-movement’
Term Two: (To be confirmed, and further information to follow).
Teaching and Learning
The course will be taught by means of plenary sessions and weekly seminars structured around group discussion. The module will be taught in English. The module will be capped at 60. Attendance will be monitored in all teaching sessions.
- 1500-word essay in term 1 (15%)
- 1500-word essay in term 2 (15%)
- 2-hour written examination (70%).
Core Reading and Viewing:
- Franz Hohler: Die Rückeroberung. München: dtv 1995 (1st edn Hamburg: Luchterhand 1982)
- Fritz Lang: Metropolis (1926-1927)
- David Blackbourn: The Long Nineteenth Century. A History of Germany, 1780-1918. NY, Oxford: OUP 1998, esp. pp. 177-191, pp. 270-283, pp. 313-350, 394-399
- Simon Schama: Landscape and memory. London: HarperCollins 1995
To be confirmed