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Unit information: '1968' in History, Word and Image in 2017/18

Unit name '1968' in History, Word and Image
Unit code GERM20038
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Debbie Pinfold
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit is taught by Dr Ellen Pilsworth.

50 years after the widespread anti-authoritarian protests and rebellions of 1967 and 1968 in West Germany, how is this period of political turbulence, revolutionary energy and creativity remembered and understood today? What were the goals of the so-called 'student-movement' in Germany, and why did it fail? Who was Rudi Dutschke, and why did Josef Bachmann try to shoot him dead while he was on his way to the pharmacy on April 11th 1968?

This unit will take an interdisciplinary approach to the topic, using a combination of historical sources (such as reports from local and national media) and responses in literature, film and performance art. What was the role of the media in shaping events at the time, and how did people respond to them? By comparing literature, film and art from 1967/1968 with works created more recently, this unit will also explore the place being given to '1968' within German cultural memory. How, in particular, do those actors who were involved at the time reflect on the so-called 'student-movement' now?

Seminars will contain a mixture of teacher-led mini-lectures, pair work, film screenings, and group discussion. As part of the assessment of this unit, students will respond creatively to the topic by contributing to an online blog to be shared beyond the university. This could take the form of a research article, literary prose text, a video interview, or a work of visual or performance art (shared as a photo or video, respectively). This will form part of the international effort to commemorate 1968 across Europe in its anniversary year, taking students' work out of the classroom and into the public domain.

Unit aims:

  • To introduce students to the events of 1967/1968 in West Germany, using a mixture of historical sources, literary and artistic works and enable them to exercise critical judgement in analysing those events and the significance attached to them since.
  • To develop students’ understanding of current research on the topic.
  • To enhance students’ skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, and to encourage interdisciplinary thinking.

To provide students with technical training and practical experience in engagement with the public via a collaborative blog.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit successful students will have:

(1) Demonstrated, to a standard appropriate to level I, a knowledge of the 1967/1968 protest movement and its 'afterlife', in German culture;

(2) Acquired and deployed appropriate skills to analyse material across a range of different disciplines and media;

(3) Developed the ability to articulate a critical understanding of a significant event in the recent past, to a range of different audiences;

(4) Demonstrated skill in the selection, synthesis and evaluation of relevant material;

(5) Demonstrated the ability to respond to problems by presenting independent judgements in a range of media, in an appropriate style and at a high level of complexity.

(6) Demonstrated the ability to make an individual contribution to a collaborative, public-facing group project.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour seminar weekly.

Assessment Details

1 essay of 2,500 words (70%), testing ILOs 1-5

Individual contribution to a collaborative blog, 1,500 words in length or for non-textual formats, an agreed equivalent (30%), testing ILOs 1-6

Reading and References

Selected primary materials for study:

Uwe Timm, Heißer Sommer (novel, 1974)

Stefan Krohmer, Dutschke (film, 2009)

A PDF reader will be made available at the start of term with other selected extracts of primary material.

Introductory Reading:

Mererid Puw Davies, Writing and the West German Protest Movements (London, 2016)

Timothy Scott Brown, West Germany and the Global Sixties, 1962–1978 (Cambridge, 2013)

Martin Klimke, Joachim Scharloth (eds) 1968. Handbuch zur Kultur- und Mediengeschichte der Studentenbewegung (Stuttgart & Weimar,2007)

Marmulla Henning, Enzensbergers Kursbuch. Eine Zeitschrift um 68 (Berlin, 2011)

Gretchen Dutschke, Wir hatten ein barbarisches, schönes Leben. Rudi Dutschke: eine Biographie (Cologne, 1996)

Cornils, Ingo. Writing the Revolution: The Construction of '1968' in Germany (Rochester, N.Y., 2016)