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GE13: Aspects of German-speaking Europe since 1945

This paper is available for the academic year 2019-20.

This paper deals with the literature, thought, and history of Germany, Austria and Switzerland since 1945, but its main focus is Germany since 1989. It should prove particularly attractive to those who have just spent a year in Germany. Those who have spent a year elsewhere will not, however, be at a disadvantage.

The recent period is remarkably rich, and it takes in the aftermath of the ‘failed’ socialist experiment in the GDR as well as the culture of the industrialised, ‘postmodern’ society of the other German-speaking societies. This is a period in which a wide range of different forms of culture are taken seriously and where the feminine voice is heard particularly strongly. Challenges to authority are frequent, and there is ever greater awareness of the manipulative power of the media - the press, radio and television. Film also enjoys a strong revival.

The paper does not aim to cover every aspect but to concentrate on particularly fascinating features in which members of the Department have a strong research interest. Currently there are topics on such issues as contemporary German politics, Berlin in modern German film, Germany and Europe, literature and cultural responsibility in East and West, multiculturalism in modern Germany; Austrian culture and politics since 1986.

  1. Contemporary German politics
  2. Islam in German Culture
  3. Germany in Europe 1945 - 2016
  4. Vergangenheitsbewältigung, culture and politics in Austria
  5. Political Violence in Germany from 1968 to the 2000s
  6. History and Identity in Germany 1945-2015
Preparatory reading: 

Eva Kolinsky, W. van der Will (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Modern German Culture (Cambridge, 1998)

Ruth Wittlinger, German National Identity in the Twenty-First Century. A Different Republic After All? (Houndmills, 2010)

Jeffrey J. Anderson and Eric Langenbacher (eds), From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic: Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification (Oxford, 2010)

H. Glaser, Kleine deutsche Kulturgeschichte von 1945 bis heute (Frankfurt a.M., 2007)

H.-P. Schwarz (ed.), Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Eine Bilanz nach 60 Jahren (Munich, 2008)

Hannes Leidinger and Verena Moritz, Die Republik Österreich 1918/2008 (Vienna, 2008)

Full reading list

Please see the reading list for Ge.13 here.


Teaching and learning: 

Two lectures and one seminar are devoted to each topic and students will also attend a regular series of supervisions. Students are encouraged to attend all the lectures but would normally select four topics for study in supervisions. All lectures are accompanied by extensive handouts.

Learning resources:

The Moodle site for Ge.13 can be found here. Students should email the paper coordinator for the enrollment password.


The topics set will form the basis of examination questions. There will be two mutually exclusive questions on each topic (EITHER/OR). There will also be one or two questions of a general nature relating to the themes of the paper as a whole. Students will be able to answer ANY three questions. Students also have the option of preparing a dissertation of 10,000 words instead of sitting the exam (the Optional Dissertation).

Course Contacts: 
Professor Joachim Whaley