Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures (German)


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2008/09 Module Cap 40 Location Durham


  • German Language 1 (GERM1011) or an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: German Language 2 (GERM2021/GERM2111). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To prepare students for more specialised study in final year optional seminars by building strategically on knowledge and skills already mediated through Drama and Narrative GERM1031.
  • It therefore focuses less on genre and more on a theme of general interest, which is exemplified in a wide range of texts and mainstream traditions from many epochs.
  • Thus it will both broaden students' reading and informational base in German cultural history and develop understanding of a key function of literature in public life in both pre-modern and modern epochs: reflection on our identity as men and women.
  • Treatment of the theme will include contrastive analyses of how male and female authors construct the specifics of their own, opposite or transgressive gender identity.
  • The course will focus on such topics as the theme of Tristan and Isolde from Gottfried to Wagner and Thomas Mann, Between liberation and taboo: Gender identity in German writing from Romanticism to modernity and Sex and identity in German cinema from the Weimar Republic to the present.


  • This module explores one major social function of literature and other aesthetic discourses, namely how they both shape and subvert received notions of gender identity, over several epochs of German cultural history.
  • Topics covered will include sexual orthodoxy, repression and emancipation, and lectures will draw on major theorists from Augustine to Humboldt, Freud and Weininger.
  • The construction of gender identity will be explored in a range of texts selected form the works of Gottfried von Strassburg to Kleist, Wagner, Frieda von Bulow, Thomas Mann, Fritz Lang, Christa Wolf, Doris Dorrie, and others.
  • This module is taught and examined in German.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will be familiar with a wide range of representative works in word and image which treat the problem of gender, sexuality and identity and its development over several epochs of German cultural history.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Student will be able to analyse the means by which such works construct, reflect on and criticise notions of gender identity in germanophone lands.
  • Students will also develop key transferable skills of analytical thinking, synthesis, and increased proficiency in delivery of written commentary in German.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • The course will consist of plenary sessions, seminars and tutorials.
    • Plenary sessions will be based on both lectures and student presentations.
    • Lectures will familiarise students with the relevant socio-historical context and introduce the key theoretical and critical issues raised by the texts under consideration.
    • By preparing for seminar presentations, students will develop skills in independent learning, rapid critical reading, synthesis, and analytic thinking all of which will be further promoted by preparation for seminars on a weekly basis, and by guided discussion in the seminars themselves.
    • The course will be taught mainly in German and assessed wholly in German.
    • Through participation in classes, students will thus also increase their oral proficiency in the target language.
    • Students will produce two formatively assessed commentaries over the course of the year which will train them to construct coherent, lucid arguments in syntactically and grammatically sound German.
    • Feedback on formative assignments will be given within a fortnight of the submission deadline, and will allow students to integrate tutors' comments into their summative work.
    • Summative commentaries will reproduce the format of the formative work.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Seminars 21 Weekly 1 Hour 21
    Practicals 2 Termly 1 Hour 4
    Lecture Sessions 10 Fortnightly 1 Hour 10
    Preparation and Reading 165
    Total 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Commentary 1 Component Weighting: 50%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Commentary 2,000 words 100%
    Component: Commentary 2 Component Weighting: 50%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Commentary 2,000 words 100%

    Formative Assessment:


    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University