Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2016-2017 (archived)


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (German)


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2016/17 Module Cap Location Durham


  • German Language 2A (GERM2021); OR German Language 2B (GERM2152) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: German Language 4 (GERM3071) or German Language 4 following Year Abroad (GERM3211). Other: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This course examines intersections between technological, cultural and political revolutions in the German-speaking countries, focusing on key moments from the end of the nineteenth century through to the present day where the relationship between the image and revolution has been reconfigured and rethought.
  • The course will focus on aesthetic theories of the image (still, moving, and installation) drawing on works by Theodor Adorno, Bela Balasz, Hans Belting, Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alexander Kluge, Siegfried Kracauer, Alois Riegl, Peter Weibel amongst others.


  • These revolutionary conceptions of the image will be contextualized through close analysis of a range of visual objects (including photography, film and experimental video art, painting, architecture, new media, conceptual art and performance) and situated in relation to key events, such as: 1848 and its aftermaths; the birth of cinema and the modern metropolis; Dada and revolt; visual culture and society in the 1920s; Leni Riefenstahl and the ‘national revolution’; cinema and social reconstruction after 1945; the politicization of the aesthetic in post-war Germany and Austria; German New Wave cinema; photography as social critique in the GDR; new media and the globalization of the image.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the course, students will have acquired:
  • Solid critical understanding of fundamental concepts and methodological approaches to visual objects in the German-speaking countries from 1848 onwards.
  • Ability to analyse and define how leading thinkers, writers, artists and architects contributed to innovation in the theory and practice of the image in the German-speaking countries from 1848 onwards.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to interpret and contextualise major works of art and literature produced in the German-speaking countries from 1848 onwards.
  • Development of research and critical skills required by detailed reading, conceptual reasoning, textual analysis and analysis of visual objects
  • Ability to analyse different text-types and visual artefacts in a historically and culturally situated way, and in relation to relevant debates in aesthetic and cultural theory
Key Skills:
  • Writing, analytical and critical skills
  • Research and time management skills
  • Argumentation and presentation in German and English
  • Textual and visual analysis

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

  • The course will consist of seminars structured around student presentations, and will involve weekly plenary sessions and a fortnightly seminar
  • The module will be taught and assessed in German and in English
  • All students will be required to prepare presentations and regular readings, and to particpate actively in seminars
  • Plenary sessions 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 the fortnightly seminar, which will alternate discussions with formative student presentations, students will develop skills in independent learning, rapid critical reading, synthesis, analytical thinking, and the presentation of coherent argument.
  • Through reading and preparation of complex material in German, and formative class presentations in German, students will also further advance their proficiency in the target language.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 21 Weekly 1 hour 21
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Project Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project 1500 words 100% No
Component: Final Essay Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Final Essay 3500 words 100% No

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