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The Twentieth-Century German Novel (Level 6)


Module description

In this module we focus on developments in the German novel in the twentieth century and how the novels we study represent both literary tradition and literary innovation.

We will begin with an introduction to the German novel, identifying different literary movements and trends in the twentieth century and the political, social and historical contexts of the novels in question. In this first session we will also analyse ways of studying the novel/narrative as a genre. We will first study Thomas Mann’s realist masterpiece Buddenbrooks, then move on to Kafka’s modernist Das Schloss, followed by post-1945 novels Und sagte kein einziges Wort by Heinrich Böll, Becker’s Jakob der Lügner and Özdamar’s Die Bruecke vom Goldenen Horn. Three main aspects of the post-war German novel will be explored:

  • poverty and the 'Wirtschaftswunder'
  • the Holocaust
  • Turkish-German writing

All texts studied will be available in German and in English translation.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module you will:

  • understand developments in the twentieth-century German novel
  • have knowledge about the writers, novels and issues under discussion
  • be able to evaluate twentieth-century German novels at a thematic and a stylistic level
  • understand a range of theoretical and methodological approaches relevant to the study of the novel
  • have worked within these theoretical frameworks in the interpretation of novels
  • understand the historical and political context from which the novels studied arose and the way in which the novels themselves constitute a response to that context.