GM3WOS-War on Screen - Germany and its films about WWII

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Pass in Part 2 German
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Ute Wolfel


Summary module description:

The module aims to familiarise students with the on-going attempts of German filmmakers to tackle the legacy of World War II on screen. We will look at representative German films from the late 1940s to the post-unification period and discuss their changing interpretations of World War II with regard to the films’ political, cultural as well as cinematic contexts.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students will have familiarised themselves with a core topic of current German and European history; they will have reflected on their pre-existing concepts and ideas about World War II and German ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung’ and will have learned to discuss depictions and interpretations of them critically in an academic context. They will have learned to read film as historical source and use excerpts from public debates to describe a complex national legacy; they will have practised selecting, evaluating and presenting material to others in order to further discussion.

Students will develop their research and writing skills as well as their ability to analyse films and texts.

Additional outcomes:
This module will also encourage the development of close reading and oral communication skills and enhance students' effectiveness in group situations.

Outline content:
The Third Reich and its world war left Germany in a state of complete moral and material destruction and made a catastrophe the source of national renewal. The on-going re-interpretation and re-evaluation of this ‘prime catastrophe’ became central to the development and continuing transformation of a German national self-image, and film committed itself to this challenging task from 1946 on. Throughout the occupational period (1945-1949), the period of German division (1949-1991), and ongoing after German unification filmmakers and production companies have devised plot patterns, figures and images that would provide their audiences with emotional and intellectual access to an individual and national past and allow for a broad integration of that past in the respective present. By analysing representative film examples from the three major historical post-war periods, we will gain a general overview of plot patterns and stock characters such as the Hitler youth, the common soldier, the communist resistance fighter, the persecuted Jewish child, the Wehrmacht general, and determine their respective political, cultural, cinematic as well as biographical basis. Film examples will normally include 'Ehe im Schatten' (1946), 'Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben' (1958), 'Sterne' (1958), 'Mama, ich lebe' (1976), 'David' (1979), 'Das Boot' (1980), 'Stalingrad' (1992).

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
A mixture of informal lectures and student-led seminars/discussions in the Autumn and Spring terms. Students will be required to carry out close reading of the texts studied and discuss them in class.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 5 5
Seminars 10 10
Guided independent study 85 85
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
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:
Students will give ONE presentation (10%) and submit ONE essay of approximately 2,500 words (30%).
One two-hour examination (60%); answers may not rely substantially on material used in assessed essays.

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:
    Two hours

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Written examination in August in the event of failure in this module and in Finals as a whole.

    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: 21 December 2016

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