German Children’s Literature

Unit Code: GERM10034
Unit Director: Mr Jonas Langner
Teaching Block: Two
Credit Points: 20
Method of Assessment: See below


In this unit we will explore the representation of German history, society, and culture in German children’s literature, focusing on the time since 1933 until today. Applying basic principles and methods of literary analysis, we will reflect on how history is presented and presents itself within and through children’s books as well on what literature can tell us about the past, in particular for the historical periods of the Third Reich and the GDR the role propaganda played in children’s literature will be concerned.

Lectures on German history, society, and culture from 1933 – today and introductory lessons on children’s literature will alternate with student presentations on the context, content, and reception of selected children’s books. We will also do some close reading of excerpts of certain books. This will be complemented by analytical discussions about the texts and their perspectives on history, society, and culture.


Lectures, discussions, group work and student presentations


  1. One analytical essay of approx. 2000 words (50%)

  2. Two written commentaries (approx 500 words each) on excerpts of children’s books (50%)

Set Texts

  • Mark Allinson, Germanyand Austria, 1814-2000. Modern history for modern languages (Arnold, 2002)
  • Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer, Klassiker der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, 3 vol. (Metzler, 2004)
  • Reiner Wild (ed.), Geschichte der deutschen Kinder- und Jugendliteratur (Metzler, 1990)
  • other key texts can be found in the reader
A full bibliography will be issued before the start of the Second Teaching Block.


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