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German Early Modern Literature


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Tutor: Alexander Weber
  • Prerequisites: German 3 or equivalent language skills

Module description

The module offers a rare opportunity to study the period of the Reformation and its aftermath. No other German literary event changed the course of history as much as Luther’s translation of the Bible. We will begin with a very brief overview of the development of the German language in the middle ages and examine how Luther was instrumental in shaping modern high German. The module will then trace the genesis of some literary figures which will still play a central role in the popular imagination of the German people today. We will study the Faustbuch and a play on a closely related character, Jacob Bidermann’s Cenodoxus. The war poetry of Andreas Gryphius and Grimmelshausen’s brief novel Courasche (the model of Brecht’s Mother Courage) will be examined as vivid accounts of the Thirty Years’ War which, according to some historians, shaped the problematic min-set of the German people which led to its tragic role in the context of European nations.

The texts will be read in German, but English translations are available.