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The Twentieth-Century German Novel (Level 6)


Module description

The module will focus on developments in the German novel in the twentieth century, demonstrating how the novels studied 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. The first text to be studied is Thomas Mann’s realist masterpiece Buddenbrooks, then we move on to Kafka’s modernist Das Schloss. The post-45 novels to be studied are Heinrich Böll’s Und sagte kein einziges Wort, 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, and 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:

  • have an understanding of developments in the twentieth-century German novel
  • have gained relevant factual 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.