GM3MODA-Mobility and the Metropolis: Berlin in German Literature

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Pass in Part 2 German or equivalent
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Alison Martin


Summary module description:

This module explores how the relatively ‘young’ metropolis of Berlin has been represented in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century German literature. A capital which has been at the heart of five different states in under a century, it is the very embodiment of change. The course focuses in particular on how Berlin has been cast as a dynamic, shifting, entity in literature and how the themes of mobility and movement have been variously deployed by prose writers and poets in this period. One of its central aims is to deepen students’ understanding of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century German literature and culture; the other is to develop their close reading skills through an in-depth analysis of selected literary texts covering the period from the 1890s to the 1990s.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students will be required to apply critical thinking about the metropolis to the primary material selected for this course. They will undertake independent work and prepare seminar presentations singly or in pairs. Feedback from these presentations will enable them to develop further their ideas and fine-tune their argumentation, prior to writing the essay that forms the written part of their assessed output from this module.

Additional outcomes:
This module will also encourage the development of close reading and oral communication skills and students will learn to contribute effectively and persuasively to class discussions through seminar presentations and group work.

Outline content:
Adopting a broadly chronological approach, this module begins by exploring how Naturalist and Expressionist writers (Julius Hart, Georg Heym, Alfred Lichstenstein) cast the rapid expansion of the railway network and train travel in Berlin. Drawing on Georg Simmel’s 'Die Großstadt und das Geistesleben' (1903) we will then examine contemporary critical reflections on the changing pace of life, provocatively embodied in the leisured wanderer, the 'flaneur'. We move on to explore narratives of arrival in 1920s and 1930s Berlin, and Else Lasker-Schüler’s vivid description of Berlin as a ‘kreisende Weltfabrik’. In the second half of the seminar, we turn to the fate of Berlin in the immediate pre- and post-war period, before examining the constraints placed on Berliners in the GDR. We close by considering Richard Wagner’s recasting of the 'flaneur' for a contemporary audience and by reflecting on Durs Grünbein’s more recent notion of Berlin as a place in ‘transit’.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
A mixture of informal lectures and student-led seminars/discussions taking place in the Autumn Term. Students will acquire important background information from the lectures and will be encouraged to undertake independent work and prepare seminar presentations.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 28 2
Guided independent study 114 56
Total hours by term 142.00 58.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
One essay of c. 2500-3000 words, 30%. One seminar presentation, 10%.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    2 hours

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August in the event of failure in this module and in Finals as a whole. Coursework mark over 40% to be carried forward; unsatisfactory coursework to be resubmitted by 1.00 pm on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed, the first working day thereafter.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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