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Unit information: German Literature and Film: Genres, Texts, Contexts in 2020/21

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Unit name German Literature and Film: Genres, Texts, Contexts
Unit code GERM10035
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Debbie Pinfold
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Students studying this unit must hold an A Level in German Language or have similar proficiency.

This unit develops knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts and genres in German literary culture. Through a selection of exemplary texts, canonical and otherwise, it introduces students to the genres of poetry, drama, prose writing and film, and invites reflection on the similarities and differences between them. Ranging across the modern period (since c. 1500), the unit also establishes an outline of German literary history and a basic set of methodological tools for reading literature and film. It develops and practises key skills in university-level literary study, notably: close reading, understanding and using textual scholarship and literary criticism, and forming an independent literary analysis. Written textual analysis is practised with two short exercises (e.g. commentary, book review, scene analysis) prior to the writing of a longer essay. All these skills and activities are specifically preparatory for the curriculum in Years 2, 3 and 4.

The unit thus aims:

  • to develop critical sensitivity to literary texts and films among first-year students of German and basic tools for the analysis of such material
  • to impart a broad knowledge of selected key figures, concepts and movements in modern German literary and cultural history
  • to inculcate good practices and attitudes in the study of cultural artefacts at university level, including: precision, curiosity, creativity, independence and imagination
  • to enhance students’ capacity to engage critically, in oral discussion and in writing, with primary material and with scholarship
  • to develop key technical skills for university study, notably in the retrieval and use of library resources and in effective writing

This unit has a formative piece of assessment

1 x 750 word poetry commentary

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. understand the periods and genres represented by the material chosen;
  2. illustrate reading skills (both textually and visually), as well as sophisticated analytical skills;
  3. investigate and categorise literary and cultural scholarship (via library and IT resources);
  4. organise the results of this research in a range of written and oral forms;
  5. collaborative effectively on a group project.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunites supported by tutor consultation. A series of formative tasks will focus on preparation for the summative reflective piece, and will include individual and collaborative exercises in both oral and written form, testing ILOs 1-5.

Assessment Information

1) One 1000-word reflective piece (35%). Testing ILOs 1-4. 2) One 2000-word essay (65%). Testing ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Set texts are likely to change from year to year; students will be given a list of titles in advance of the semester in which the unit is taken.

Introductory reading:

Nicholas Boyle, German Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2008)

Judith Ryan, The Cambridge Introduction to German Poetry (Cambridge: CUP, 2012)

The Cambridge History of German Literature, ed. Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly (Cambridge: CUP, 1997)

The Cambridge Companion to Modern German Culture, ed. Eva Kolinsky and Wilfried van der Will (CUP, 1998)