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School of Modern Languages & Cultures: Department of German

Images of Luther

About this Module

Martin Luther (1483-1546) is the most-written-about German in history, and still an iconic figure of German history and cultural memory. This module aims to familiarize you with some of the many ways in which Luther and the period in which he lived have been understood, misunderstood, presented, interpreted and manipulated from the 16th century till the present. 

The module allows you to specialize in topics that particularly interest you from this 500-year period over a wide variety of areas: history, theology, fiction, Bible translation, politics, history of language, psychology, music, liturgy, tourism and 'heritage', visual art, sculpture, monuments, theatre, film, electronic media. This material ranges historically from Luther's own time to the present, with particular emphasis on the 16th century, the 'Long 19th century', the Third Reich, the GDR and the present day.

By the end of the module, you should have a deepened appreciation of the many ways in which the past is constructed, reconstructed and manipulated for a variety of political, cultural and confessional purposes. You should have improved your written and oral presentation technique, and you will have developed your independent research skills through an individual research project. You will have had the opportunity to study areas and periods not often touched on in German courses.

Learning and Teaching

Most teaching and the bulk of the summative assessment is in German. There are two one-hour classes a week (running to the middle of Term 2). In one (the plenary session), students give presentations on topic areas of their choice agreed in consultation with the module tutor. They receive detailed feedback on these. The other hour (seminar) is devoted to detailed discussion of representative German texts on Luther.

Summative Assessment

  • A 1500-word commentary in English (25%), based on the work done in the seminars

  • A 3500-word written project in German (75%). This allows you to explore a specific aspect of the module that interests you in detail. The project is agreed in consultation with the tutor, and work on it is begun in the second half of Epiphany Term: your work is monitored in supervision sessions with the tutor.

Co-ordinator:

Dr Peter Macardle (p.g.macardle@durham.ac.uk), room A12, Elvet Riverside I