Aims: This unit will provide an overview of the development of literature and film in the political context of the GDR and assess the distinctive qualities of GDR culture. It will take full account of the way in which perspectives on GDR culture have changed since German unification. Through the close study of a number of key texts and films it will identify some major thematic concerns of the period following the rejection of socialist realism as a cultural doctrine.
Students who complete the unit successfully will have grasped the complicated role of culture as the focus of pre-1989 criticism of the GDR from within; they will appreciate the challenges faced by authors and film-makers inadapting to the unified German context; they will have gained a detailed understanding of the significance of the chosen works; they will have developed their analytical and comparative skills in studying these works.
Skills in critical analysis, conceptual thinking, precision in the use of written and spoken language, exercise of independent judgement, reasoned argument, effective communication in the target language, teamwork and the planning/conduct/reporting of non-quantitative research are developed and assessed in this unit.
Lectures will provide an overview of the key events in the GDR's cultural history and highlight problems involved in dealing with GDR culture from today's perspective. Seminars will focus on representative literary texts and films of the period between the mid-1960s and the present day. These will include a selection from Volker Braun, Unvollendete Geschichte; Christa Wolf, Was bleibt; Thomas Brussig, Sonnenallee; and the films Spur der Steine, Solo Sunny, Nikolaikirche, and Das Leben der Anderen. The unit is taught in German.