Introduction to German Studies
This is the core module for first year students of German. We look at the history of German and introduce you to the linguistic study of the language, and at a range of themes and styles in German literature linked to key areas of German and Austrian culture, such as gender relations, migration, and race. Further topics address the study of German film, and German history with a focus on recent history since German reunification in 1990. The module gives students insight into the different areas we teach and also the skills to explore these areas in more depth in subsequent modules.
This module will provide you with the learning skills necessary to make the most of your studies in history. You will be introduced to different approaches in the study of history as well as to different understandings of the functions served by engagement with the past. The module aims to encourage more effective learning, bridge the transition from school or college to university, prepare you for more advanced work in the discipline, and enhance the skills listed. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars each week.
Building on the four skill areas of A-level work (writing, reading, listening and speaking), this module aims to develop students’ command of German towards the level required in year 2. It consolidates students’ understanding of grammatical structures, and improves their spoken and written German. We will work with authentic texts and media including journalistic articles, poems and short stories, videos, clips from TV programmes in German and news items. You will have three contact hours each week including oral classes, and will be assessed in a variety of different exercises including an oral exam, a listening comprehension test, essay writing, translation into English, grammar exercises and a presentation in German.
German 1 - Beginners
This module is designed to take students from absolute beginners to a level commensurate with the A2 level in the European reference framework for language qualifications. At the end of the module, students should be able to comprehend and respond to texts on a range of topics and engage in everyday social conversation. You’ll have 6 contact hours per week on this intensive beginners’ module, working on reading comprehension, grammar, listening exercises, speaking skills, and writing short texts such as emails and essays in the second semester. We follow a structured course and use a textbook, but you’ll also be working with authentic texts from the very first week of German classes, which will help you develop a more extensive vocabulary and show you just how fast you’re progressing.
Reading German Literature I
In this module we study two shorter narratives and a number of poems in depth, providing you with an overview of key literary developments between the 18th century and the present. Authors studied currently include Goethe, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Rainer Maria Rilke, Arthur Schnitzler, and Ingeborg Bachmann. Classes combine detailed textual analysis with discussion of literary, cultural and historical contexts. This is therefore both an introduction to literary history and methodology and to German and Austrian cultural history.
Linguistics: The Sounds of German
This module investigates the sounds of German and how they can be described accurately (“phonetics and phonology”). Students learn to transcribe German using the notation of the International Phonetic Association. We look in particular at aspects of German pronunciation that are hard to master because they are different to English. We will also look at how foreign words, including English words, are integrated into the German sound system, and at regional variation in spoken German. Developing accurate listening and transcription skills will form a major part of the module, as will improving your own pronunciation.
Hitler and the Third Reich
Although the Third Reich is very well researched, it still raises many questions: How could Adolf Hitler gain so much power? How could a whole nation ‘fall’ for the Nazi ideology? Why the Jews? In this module we will discuss and research Nazi politics as well as its society and culture. We will consider propaganda, the press, youth and women’s organisations, as well as the role of films, art and literature. Theoretical writings on fascist ideology will provide us with relevant background knowledge and we will work with original German materials such as documents, newspapers, photos, posters, films and speeches.
Introduction to German Film Studies
This module will provide an introduction to the history of German film-making, focusing on some of the most significant films from the silent period (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari), the late Weimar Republic (M), Nazi Germany (Triumph des Willens) and the post-unification period (Good Bye Lenin!). We will study the development of film styles over the past century and discuss the films’ narratives in relation to developments in German society. The module will also introduce critical tools for the analysis of visual media and discuss a variety of critical approaches in Film Studies.
Introduction to the Medieval World, 500-1500
This module provides an introduction to medieval European history in the period 500–1500. It offers a fresh and stimulating approach to the major forces instrumental in the shaping of politics, society and culture in Europe. Through a series of thematically linked lectures and seminars, you will be introduced to key factors determining changes in the European experience over time, as well as important continuities linking the period as a whole. Amongst the topics to be considered are: political structures and organization; social and economic life and cultural developments. You will have a one hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.
From Reformation to Revolution: an introduction to early modern history, 1500-1789
This module introduces you to major issues in the social, political and cultural history of Europe in the early modern period by analysing demographic, religious, social and cultural changes that took place between 1500 and 1789. You will examine the tensions produced by warfare, religious conflict, the changing relationships between rulers, subjects and political elites, trends in socio-economic development and the discovery of the ‘New World’. You will spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Roads to Modernity: an introduction to modern history, 1789-1945
In the first semester, the module provides a chronology of modern history from c.1789–1945 which concentrates principally on key political developments in European and global history such as the French Revolution, the expansion of the European empires and the two World Wars. The second semester will look more broadly at economic, social and cultural issues, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, changing artistic forms and ideological transformations in order to consider the nature of modernity. You will spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Contemporary World since 1945
The module surveys and analyses some of the main developments in world affairs since the end of the Second World War. This includes major international events, particularly the course and aftermath of the Cold War, as well as national and regional histories, especially in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; the module also looks at key political and social movements. Attention is paid to political, economic and social forces, with students spending five hours per week in lectures and seminars.
This module will consolidate students’ proficiency in the four skill areas of German 1 (writing, reading, listening and speaking) and develop these further. Working on texts from newspapers and other sources, we will discuss translation issues, grammatical structures, linguistic analysis and textual comparison, oral presentation, and essay and CV writing. The module will use texts that cover a broad range of general, journalistic and academic topics, as well as those that will help to prepare you for work or study during your year abroad. You’ll have three contact hours on this module.
German 2 - Beginners
This module will build on the skills acquired in the first year intensive beginners’ language module. Your skills in writing, reading, listening and speaking will be consolidated and developed further. We will work with authentic texts and media including journalistic articles, poems and short stories, videos, clips from TV programmes and news items, and focus on both academic and non-academic registers. You will have four contact hours each week, and will be assessed in a variety of different exercises. The module will help you work towards your year abroad, and will use texts that develop your knowledge of Germany and Austria.
The Fairy Tale in German Culture
This module will explore key moments in the history of the fairy tale in German culture, from their 19th century appropriation to underpin notions of a national folk culture to critical reworkings of fairy tales. We will use a number of different approaches in analysing the tales and investigating their cultural significance, including Marxism, feminism and psychoanalysis. Primary material will include folk tales, literary fairy tales and fairy tale films such as the Brothers Grimm Kinder- und Hausmärchen collection, East German fairy tale films, Weimar proletarian tales, and Lotte Reiniger’s silhouette animations.
Introduction to Literary Translation
The module provides an introduction to literary translation from German into English. We will analyse key issues of cultural difference and historical distance by comparing different translations of the same original text. Students will compose their own translation of a literary text of their choice and summarise their translation strategy. Students will improve their understanding of the linguistic and cultural differences between English and German, develop enhanced translation skills, and gain insights into literary texts.
Rundfunk und Fernsehen in Deutschland
In this module we will study the role of radio and television in Germany. We will investigate the cultural and economic functions of those media in German society and analyse the relationship between public and commercial broadcasters. We will study a range of programming formats such as news, infotainment, soaps, and quiz shows and discuss a variety of critical approaches to understanding modern media. Intercultural issues will be explored through comparisons with British television.
Reason and its Rivals from Kant to Freud
In this module we will examine a selection of theoretical approaches to modernity, beginning with Kant’s assertion of individual reason as the founding stone of enlightened social organisation. We will move on to examine how Marx and Engels, Nietzsche and Freud all interrogated Kant’s position in their work. Our discussions will touch on issues such as the nature of the individual subject, the role of culture, as well as competing ideas of the status of reality as based in social conditions or the product of the will, drives, or ideology.
Meaning and Context in Modern German
In this module we will first examine the principles informing the study of meaning (semantics), and the contexts that give rise to meaning (pragmatics) in the German language, e.g. rules of politeness. An overview of lexical and grammatical meaning will enable us to look at the relationship between words and consider ambiguity. The second half of the module will examine how the context of linguistic utterances is responsible for the construction of meaning. We will consider contexts responsible for speakers’ use of modal particles (ja, doch, aber, bloß). We then examine how speakers convey certain meanings without stating them explicitly (implicature). Finally, we will look at how contextual factors affecting language usage play a role in how speakers of German express politeness and impoliteness.
The Life and Demise of the GDR
This module investigates GDR society over four decades of communist rule and considers social changes in Eastern Germany after the demise of the GDR. We will examine the principles of communist ideology that the Socialist Unity Party attempted to legitimise as the only viable alternative to fascism. We will also look at how people negotiated their lives within officially imposed ideological structures. Finally, we will look at how a new kind of “public authority” during the Wende period in the GDR triggered the disintegration of communist power structures.
Plague, Famine and Flood: Crisis and Change in English Society, 1250-1540
The later middle ages was a period of stark contrasts. From a population explosion and dynamic economic expansion at the end of the thirteenth century through the dark years of famine and plague of the fourteenth century, to the social and economic upheavals of the fifteenth century, this was a world that contemporaries believed had been turned upside down. This module examines how medieval society weathered these changes and the ways historians have tried to explain them. Translated medieval documents, which allow students to get as close as possible to the medieval people themselves, are a central element of the module.
The British Empire from Emancipation to the Boer War
This module examines the history of the British Empire from the end of the slave trade in 1833-4 to the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899-1902. The first part of the course considers the British Caribbean, with a particular focus on the transition from slavery and the period of instability in the decades that followed. The second part focuses on India and the changeover from East India Company rule to the direct administration by the British government in the wake of the Indian Mutiny (aka “the Sepoy Rebellion”). The final part discusses Britain’s participation in the “Scramble for Africa” and the rise of “popular imperialism” with the 2nd Anglo-Boer War.
The Venetian Republic
This module explores the nature of the Venetian Republic in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the constitution, its administrative and judicial system, its imperial and military organisation, but will above all focus on the city and its inhabitants itself. The module will discuss the enormous cultural dynamism of the city, especially the visual arts from the Bellini to Tintoretto and Veronese, changing urban fabric, the role of ritual and ceremony, the position of the Church, and class and gender. You will spend four hours each week in lectures and seminars for this module.
De-industrialisation: A Social and Cultural History, 1970-1990
This module examines the social and cultural impact of economic change in three traditional industrial regions in the UK, Germany and the US in the 1970s and 1980s. It takes thematic approaches, exploring topics including: overlaps and differences between Contemporary History and the Social Sciences; change and decline in traditional industries such as coal, steel and shipbuilding; political responses to industrial change, with a particular focus on industrial conflict over closures, among others. You will spend four hours per week in lecture and seminars.
Soviet State and Society
This module examines political, social and economic transformations in the Soviet Union from the October Revolution of 1917 to Gorbachev’s attempted reforms and the collapse of the state in 1991. You will look at Russia both from the top down, state-building strategies; leadership and regime change; economic and social policy formulation and implementation, and from the bottom up, societal developments and the changing structures and practices of everyday life. You will spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
This advanced German language module will further enhance students’ practical command and effective understanding in writing, reading, listening and speaking. Working with the support of native speakers, we will use seminar time to engage in class discussions as well as work on texts and practise writing skills in a variety of registers. Students are encouraged to reflect on their year abroad. We will also work on translation skills in this module. Classes will use a variety of authentic German texts to develop students’ translation skills towards professional standards for translation into English.
This module involves the in-depth study of a historical subject from which you will create a 10,000 word dissertation. You will have regular meetings with your supervisor and a weekly one hour lecture to guide you through this task.
Translation and Linguistic Exchange
This optional module offers in-depth discussion of grammatical, lexical and idiomatic aspects of German and English as well as issues of translation, register and cultural difference. Regular practical work on translation from and into German in small groups of native speakers of both target languages will not only instigate an intellectual discussion of linguistic and translation issues but will also offer an opportunity to explore each language from at least two cultural perspectives. Nottingham students will work with exchange students from Germany and/or Austria in this module.
Geschichte und nationale Identität nach dem Holocaust
This module will examine historical, political and philosophical approaches to the concept of national identity between divided and post-unification Germany concentrating on the changing relationships between conventional patriotism and self-critical reflection on National Socialism. We will read texts ranging from the 1980s “Historikerstreit” to the diverging public and academic responses to Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1996) and will consider other examples of the shifting attitudes, both public and academic, to the memory of the Holocaust and the role it plays in constituting the contemporary German nation.
Culture and Society in the Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) was one of the most fascinating and culturally productive periods of German history, but it was equally riven by crises and violent conflicts. Weimar culture reflected and responded to these developments, experimenting with new media and exploring topical issues. A wide range of materials (literary texts, poetry, reportage, films, photographs, aesthetic and political programmes) will be studied to analyse the period. Topics will include the impact of the Great War, changing gender roles, the rise of unemployment and political violence, mass culture and everyday life.
German Colonialism: History, Literature, Memory
Although Germany only had overseas colonies between 1884 and 1918, German, Austrian and Swiss involvement in European colonial history permeates literature and culture to the present day. This module uses short novels, stories and poems written between 1800 and the present to look at a range of themes in German postcolonial studies: e.g. the exotic fascination with Africa; slavery and Afro-German history; anti-colonialism and nostalgia for Germany’s lost empire; political anti-imperialism and anti-racism; the German writing of African immigrants; and the rise since the 1990s of a critical postcolonial memory of Germany’s often forgotten colonial history.
‘Heimat’ in the German Cinema
Heimat, a political and psychological concept of rural rootedness, is at the core of German identity, and the Heimat genre has been ever-present in the German cinema since the days of the silent cinema. This module will explore the cultural and historical contexts of the concept of Heimat through the study of Heimat films from different historical moments. We will explore the artistically ambitious and politically controversial 1920s/30s mountain films; the immensely popular Heimat films of the 1950s; the aesthetically challenging and critical anti-Heimat films of the 1960s/70s; Edgar Reitz’s landmark historical saga of the 1980s; and post-1990s reinventions of the genre. We shall ask why film-makers in Germany and Austria keep returning to this genre. In addition we shall consider the question of the alien within the Heimat, the gendering of Heimat and the representation of nature and modernity in these films.
Mythology in German Literature
Literature uses ancient mythology as a rich source to describe powerful emotions, cunning politics or psychological drama. This module will explore how selected German writers engage with the myth of Medea, the powerful wife of Jason who – according to the Classical myth - kills the sons she loves to hurt Jason. We will look at how the myth is used, changed and reinvented in texts written between 1926 and 1998. We will consider theoretical writings on mythology and also look at the the Medea myth in paintings, film, theatre and music.
Communicating and Teaching Languages for Undergraduate Ambassadors
This module is part of the nationwide Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS) which works with universities to provide academic modules that enable students to go into local schools as teaching assistants and to act as role-models (for more information please check uas.ac.uk). Students split their time between the university-based support seminar and their allocated school, where they will work in the language department as an assistant. This may involve one-to-one tuition, small group teaching or extra-curricular activities in the context of the school’s language provision. Students will develop a special teaching project and will be supported in their activities by the module convenor, the education specialist on campus, and their contact teacher at the school. Typically there will be a fortnightly seminar on campus and 7 half-days spent at school. This module is especially suitable for students with prior experience as a language assistant during the year abroad.
"Slaves of the Devil" and Other Witches: A History of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe
The module offers an overview of the history of witchcraft and covers a wide geographical area spreading from Scotland to the Italian peninsula and from Spain to Russia. Such breadth of reference is of vital importance because, in contrast to the uniform theology-based approach to witch persecution in Western and Central Europe, the world of Eastern Orthodox Christianity represented a very different system of beliefs that challenged western perceptions of witchcraft as a gendered crime and lacked their preoccupation with the diabolical aspect of sorcery. The module’s geographical breadth is complemented by thematic depth across a range of primary sources and case studies exploring the issues of religion, politics, and social structure.
Late Imperial Culture: The Fin-de-Siecle in Central Europe, 1890-1914
This module looks at the great flowering of culture in Central Europe during the last years of the Habsburg Monarchy. In recent years the study of ‘Vienna 1900’ has grown to encompass such diverse figures as Freud, Mahler, Schoenberg, Klimt, Schiele, Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Kraus, Wittgenstein, Otto Wagner, Loos and many others. Yet this dazzling collection of mostly Viennese men only scratches the surface of fin-de-siecle Central European cultural world. This module aims to encourage students to develop a detailed understanding of fin-de-siecle Central European culture; its roots, achievements and failures. The students will engage with the existing historiographical debates; in particular the political, social and psychological causes of this late flowering.
Britain on Film
You’ll analyse some of the key films made in Britain since 1945 which forms the basis of this module using a series of films as historical documents and will analyse what they can tell us about the society which produced them. Some of the key themes include (these are subject to change every year): Film/History/Theory, Brief Encounter, in which we serve, Dracula, The Servant, and Blow up among others. For this module you will have one 1-hour lecture and a one 2-hour seminar each week.
The Missing Dimension: Intelligence and International History in the Twentieth Century
The history of secret intelligence was once called the ‘missing dimension’ in the study of politics and international relations. Today, it has established itself as a separate field of historical enquiry. This module will examine how the study of secret intelligence has informed and sometimes even altered our understanding of some of the major political and international crises of the twentieth century. You will spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
Kings, Saints and Monsters, 450-850
This module examines cultural and political changes in the southern half of the island of Britain between the fifth and ninth centuries, in particular the development of kingship and kingdoms as a form of political organisation, and the effects of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. You will spend three hours in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
Italy at War, 1935-45
Spending three hours per week in seminars and tutorials, you will be given a framework to understand the experience of Italians (and to a lesser degree their enemies, allies, and collaborators) during the military conflicts in the long decade 1935–45, as well as knowledge of the background factors that shaped these experiences. As source material you will have the chance to explore diplomatic correspondence, personal memoirs, newspapers and magazines, newsreels, as well as examining the representation of the war in literature and cinema.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.