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.
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 1
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Political Theory from Ancient to Modern
This module introduces students to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The module will be text based.
- Introduction to Comparative Politics
This module seeks to compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern democratic states. Topics to be covered will include:
- government and the state
- the comparative approach
- constitutions and the legal framework
- democratic and authoritarian rule
- political culture
- the political executive
- political parties and party systems
- electoral systems and voting behaviour
- the crisis of democracy
Problems in Global Politics
For this module, joint honours students will explore a range of issues in contemporary international relations. It focuses on the problems of security and insecurity since the end of the Cold War. You’ll learn to develop critical and reflective thinking using a variety of approaches and methods related to the study of global politics. You’ll have 3 hours of lectures, seminars and workshops per week studying this module.
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.
Approaches to Politics and International Relations
The module introduces students to alternative theoretical approaches to the study of political phenomena. We consider the different forms of analysing, explaining, and understanding politics associated with approaches such as behaviouralism, rational choice theory, institutionalism, Marxism, feminism, interpretive theory and post-modernism. The module shows that the different approaches are based upon contrasting ‘ontological’ suppositions about the nature of politics, and they invoke alternative ‘epistemological’ assumptions about how we acquire valid knowledge of politics and international relations.
Democracy and its Critics
You’ll examine the concept and organisation of democracy using primary sources to investigate historic and contemporary debates. You’ll consider the principles and arguments of democracy and its critics as well as the future for democracy in the context of accelerating globalisation. A variety of approaches and methods will be used to help you develop your skills for the study of political theory. You’ll have 3 hours a week of lectures and seminars studying this module.
- International Political Economy
The study of International Political Economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system. You will learn the main approaches to International Political Economy, related to a conceptual as well as empirical engagement with the history of, and recent changes in, areas such as international trade, global finance, transnational production and development related to the North-South problematic. For this module you will have one 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour seminar each week.
- Civilisation and Barbarism
This module explores some of the major themes in the study of international relations. Power and order feature prominently, but so too do war and disaster, imperialism and race, totalitarianism and emancipation, law and human rights.
The course is distinctive in two respects. First, the study of these themes each week takes its bearings from a significant text, and that text in its entirety. Second, the emphasis is on the interplay between the form and style of these texts and the ideas they contain. This inquiry is interesting and important in itself, and should also help you appreciate texts encountered elsewhere during your studies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Bourgeois Wife to New Woman: Sex and Gender in Modern Germany
This module focuses on three periods in the history of the German-speaking lands:
1. the emergence of modern bourgeois gender roles in the nineteenth century & the women’s movement around 1848; 2. the fin-de-siècle, with a particular focus on gender and sexuality in Viennese society; 3. the Weimar Republic, exploring the myth and reality of the so-called ‘New Woman’. Drawing on a range of political, theoretical and literary texts and visual material, the module considers the interrelation between social and economic developments, gender roles and notions of masculinity and femininity.
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.
Politics and Drugs
This module studies the implications of the growing abuse of narcotics for the political system from both a national and international perspective. It will examine the production, consumption and trade in drugs as an international problem.
The development of and issues associated with contemporary British drug policy will be explored and the theoretical questions raised by drug control policy will be examined.
Airpower and Modern Warfare
The invention of the aircraft fundamentally changed the ways in which wars are fought and won. Over the course of only a century airpower developed into an indispensable instrument of warfare. Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations, as a rule, are launched with overwhelming air attacks.
In recent years, however, the utility of 'strategic' airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower's capabilities, the relevance of these capabilities in contemporary conflicts cannot be taken for granted.
This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns.
German Studies Dissertation
This module involves in-depth study of a topic in German Studies, and will normally relate to a second year German module. Teaching will consist of regular individual consultations with a designated tutor. Possible topics could include linguistics (e.g. the use of Anglicisms in German), German cinema, German history, theatre, literature, gender studies, Heimat. The dissertation may be 10 or 20 credits, depending on what is most appropriate for the student’s individual programme of study. A 10 credit dissertation is 4,000 words in length, and a 20 credit dissertation is 7,000 words. Dissertations may be written in English or in German.
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 such as 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.
‘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. You will have a two hour seminar, a one hour syndicate workshop, a two hour screening.
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.
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.
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.