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GE 312: The Writer and Imperial Germany 1871-1918

Module Outline


How is the module structured and what issues does it address?


The first term starts with an introduction to the origins of Wilhelmine Germany. Here we consider the "spät, schnell aber gründlich" process of rapid economic, social and political change that transformed Germany from a diffuse patchwork of agrarian states in the early and mid-nineteenth century, with little in common apart from the language, into a nation state that, by 1914, was one of the most powerful in the world. Of particular significance will be the specific role of Prussia and its traditions before and after unification, the energies generated by the Gründerzeit, the nature of the Wilhelmine state, its form of government and the central role of the monarchy.

What sort of texts do we study?

The material analysed includes a wide range of prose texts and a variety of dramatic styles, as well as some political and philosophical essays. Texts are always related to their historical and political context.

How is the module taught?

As this is a final-year module, the emphasis is primarily on student-led two-hour seminar work, with lectures as the exception. Detailed work-sheets for seminar discussion will be made available in advance and students are required to opt for topics. These should be prepared prior to the seminar, but there will be time for discussion in small ‘base groups’ during the seminars. Groups will then report on their findings. In some cases, students may need to meet in small groups in advance of the seminar to prepare presentations.

How many people take this module?

Normally around 20 students.

When and where does the module take place?

Tuesdays 17.00-19.00 in H4.03 Humanities .

Who teaches this module?

Dr Christine Achinger (term 1) and Dr Linda Shortt (term 2 and 3).

What should I do to prepare before returning to Warwick?

It is very important that you return to Warwick fully familiar with at the very least the first major novel dealt with in term one (Effi Briest). However, it will be greatly to your advantage if you have read most if not all the texts on this module before the start of the relevant term. Experience over the years indicates that most, if not all finalists have read most, if not all the texts, and that this makes for more lively and informed seminar discussions in final year with a wider degree of involvement than is sometimes the case in second year. You are strongly recommended to acquire copies of the primary texts whilst in Germany. Many will be available second-hand in 'Antiquariate'. We recommend specific editions (contact the coordinator for a reading list) but in order to facilitate acquisition and reduce costs we do not insist on them. Primary texts will not be available in the Warwick University bookshop.

What background books should I read?

Roy Pascal’s From Naturalism to Expressionism (Manchester University Press) is a very useful wide-ranging introductory survey of the period organised according to key themes. Chapter 1 of Rob Burns’ Introduction to Modern German Cultural Studies also sets the broader cultural context. Volker Ullrichs’ Die nervöse Weltmacht offers an excellent thematically structured analytical survey of Imperial Germany as a whole. The Reading List offers a more detailed selection.

Criticism on all texts in this module available here