The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.
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 two. 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Stories of War, Revolution and Globalisation
Building on the introductions to literary study in year 1, this second-year module combines the detailed discussion of stories (Novellen) from the 19th century with a closer look at the ways in which German literature engages with European and world history between 1789 and 1914. Historical themes include the French Revolution, the memory of Napoleon, and the impact of industrialisation and colonial globalisation in the 19th century. Authors include Joseph von Eichendorff (the quintessential German Romantic poet), Wilhelm Hauff (one of the first modern professional writers), and Wilhelm Raabe (a leading representative of German Realism).
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.
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.
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.
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 Medea myth in paintings, film, theatre and music.
‘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.
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 seven half-days spent at school. This module is especially suitable for students with prior experience as a language assistant during the year abroad.
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.