GM2OPT3-Travel in the GDR

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2013/4

Module Convenor: Dr Alison Martin


Summary module description:

Travel in the GDR was a highly restricted and often frustrating affair. Yet travel was also a central theme in GDR literature, used to affirm political allegiances with other socialist East European states and reject the norms of the capitalist West, strengthen notions of 'Heimat' and (re)inforce state ideals through organised leisure activities. Travel, for some, meant escape, and 'Republikflucht' is a key aspect we shall also be exploring on this course. One of the main aims of this module is to deepen students’ understanding of the theme of travel in GDR literature; the other is to develop their close reading skills through an in-depth analysis of selected literary texts covering the period from 1961 to the early 1990s.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students will be required to apply critical thinking about travel 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:
In this module, we start by exploring the limitations on travel for inhabitants of the GDR and discuss who could travel where and why, before examining the sympathetic representations of communist society in the Soviet Union and Siberia, set against rather different accounts of travel to Western Europe. We consider how status in the Partei facilitated travel, and how mobility was allied to political power. Narratives from the early 1960s thematise the human and ideological conflicts created by the construction of the Berlin Wall and we focus in some detail on the political and social repercussions of what was cast by the authorities as ‘Republikflucht’. Travel within East Germany reinforced notions of 'Heimat', while the coast played a central role in the leisure culture of the GDR, and we close this module by considering the importance of the FKK (nudist) movement in offering freedoms that allowed East Germans to resist some of the limitations that state control placed upon them.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
A mixture of informal lectures and student-led seminars/discussions taking place in the Spring 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 12
Guided independent study 88
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will submit ONE essay of approximately 2000-2500 words.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

  • 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;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • 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.
    (Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Resubmission of coursework by 22nd August if overall failure in 2nd-yr examination.

    Last updated: 17 December 2013

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