Representations of Education in German Literature and Film: Satire, Trauma, Melodrama (MLG1015)

StaffProfessor Ricarda Schmidt - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims to reflect on changes in the notion of education in Germany over the last 200 years and to discuss different perspectives on education as presented in German literature/film from around 1800 to the present. The module also wants to acquaint you with a selection of works by representative authors/film makers and thus introduce you to key aspects of the literary and cultural traditions of Germany and the German-speaking countries. Whatever your previous experience of literature, you will be provided with a sound foundation on which to base your literary and film studies at higher levels

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate familiarity with the set texts/films and with key aspects of their historical, literary, and cultural context, in particular modes of education
  • 2. Discuss basic features of narrative technique and genre (as appropriate) with reference to the set texts/films
  • 3. Describe and evaluate, under guidance from the course tutor, key critical responses to the texts/films and, to a limited extent, apply standard critical approaches to the material independently

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Mount an argument in sound written English or in the target language, using basic textual or other evidence
  • 5. Show ability to give bibliographical information accurately and consistently, following established guidelines

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Assimilate, select and organise material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written argument

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Concepts and practices of education  in Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries
  • Introduction to genre conventions of satire
  • Kleist’s satirical proposal of a school for vice
  • Kleist’s text and the critics (introduction to using secondary literature)
  • Hoffmann, ‘Nachricht von einem gebildeten jungen Mann’: Analysis of the contrast between nature and culture in Hoffmann’s text. Distinction between insights of the monkey and those suggested to the reader. 
  • Use of secondary literature in the analysis of Hoffmann’s text
  • The literary exploration of trauma in Kafka, ‘Ein Bericht für eine Akademie’
  • The contrast between ‘Freiheit’ and ‘Ausweg’ in Kafka, ‘Ein Bericht für eine Akademie’
  • Comparison of the educational experience of the monkeys in Hoffmann and Kafka
  • Film analysis and sequence analysis
  • The genre of melodrama and the conflict between eroticism and discipline in Mädchen  in Uniform
  • To what extent do the headmistress and Fräulein von Bernburg embody the polar opposites of
  • oppression and loving care in Mädchen in Uniform?
  • Reversals of educational roles in Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei [The Edukators] 
  • Analysis of Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei in light of the points made by the literary texts dealt with in the course
  • Review session: Targets of critique, ideals and genres of the texts and films discussed

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching7Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching9Seminars
Guided Independent Study134Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Formative essay500 words1-6Written individual and written collective

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1001 x 2000 words or 2 x 1000 words 1-6Written individual

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Coursework essayCoursework essay1-6Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment. 

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading: 

  • Kleist, Heinrich von, ‘Allerneuester Erziehungsplan’, in: Kleist, Sämtliche Werke und Briefe in vier Bänden, ed. by Ilse-Marie Barth, Klaus Müller-Salget, Stefan Ormanns and Hinrich Seeba, vol. 3: Erzählungen, Anekdoten, Gedichte, Schriften (Frankfurt/Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1990), pp. 545-552.
  • Hoffmann, E.T.A., ‘Nachricht von einem gebildeten jungen Mann’, in: Hoffmann, Kreisleriana, ed. by Hanne Castein (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2005), pp. 81-93.
  • Kafka, Franz, ‘Ein Bericht für eine Akademie’, in: Kafka, Die Erzählungen, ed. by Roger Hermes (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, 2003), pp. 322-333.
  • Mädchen in Uniform (Dir. Leontine Sagan, 1931).
  • Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei [The Edukators] (Dir. Hans Weingartner, 2004).

English translations of the German texts are available in the following collections:

  • Hoffmann, E.T.A., E. T. A. Hoffmann's Musical Writings: Kreisleriana, The Poet and the Composer, Music Criticism. Translated by Martyn Clarke (Cambridge: CUP, 2003), pp. 136-144.  ISBN-13: 978-0521543392.
  • Kafka, Franz, The Penguin Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983) ISBN-13: 978-0140090086.

A translation of Kleist’s text will be provided.

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Key words search

Critique of education, literature, film, genre conventions