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Semester 1

From Girls in Uniform to Men in Drag: Gender, Sexuality and Ethnicity on the German Screen (Ordinary) (ELCG09010)


European Languages and Cultures - German





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Visiting Students should have the equivalent of at least two years of study at University level of the appropriate language(s) and culture(s). Advanced knowledge of spoken and written German and the ability to study German literature in the original language is recommended.

Course Summary

This option will explore how gender, sexuality and ethnicity, central and often contested categories throughout German history, have been represented in German film from the Weimar period to the present day. Weimar film introduced cinema audiences to Marlene Dietrich, famous for her gender-bending, as well as the first feature film with an openly pro-lesbian storyline; both the innovations of New German Cinema and the effects of post-war immigration resulted in a variety of 'other' identities on the German screen; and film since the reunification is increasingly transcultural, featuring multiple ethnicities as well as a high proportion of queer genders and sexualities. We will begin by considering ideas from film studies to facilitate student's ability to 'read' film, before examining themes and theories relating to gender, sexuality and ethnicity and applying these to German film from various periods in order to consider a spectrum of identities including: masculine; feminine; drag; trans; homosexual; heterosexual; 'Aryan'; Jewish; German; and Turkish. Although our central focus is German film, many of the ideas covered can be applied to other disciplines and outside of the German context. Students will, therefore, be encouraged to discuss the representation of gender, sexuality and ethnicity in films of their choice (i.e. other German films, World Cinema, and/or Hollywood) as well as those on the course.

Course Description

Week-by-week overview of how the course may look (as a research-led course, there could be some substitutions or additions to secondary literature listed here e.g. the introduction of significant new scholarship in the field, including my own): N.B. The film for each session should be screened the week before the corresponding seminar. WEEK 1 Introduction to Film Studies in the German Context Literature: Extracts from Monaco, James How to Read a Film (via Learn) WEEK 2 The Male Gaze Film: Der blaue Engel (von Sternberg, 1930) Literature: Mulvey, Laura 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema', in Visual and Other Pleasures (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 14-30 Schwarzer, Alice (ed.) 'Das andere Geschlecht', in Simone de Beauvoir ' Ein Lesebuch mit Bildern (Berlin: rtv, 1984), pp. 159 - 188 WEEK 3 Queering Desire Film: Mädchen in Uniform (Sagan, 1931) Literature: Fest, Kerstin (2012) 'Yesterday and/or Today: Time, History and Desire in Christa Winsloe's Mädchen in Uniform', in German Life and Letters, volume 65, issue 4,October 2012, pp. 457 - 471 Meyer, Veronika (2012) 'Lesbian Classics in Germany? A Film Historical Analysis of Mädchen in Uniform (1931 and 1958)', in Journal of Lesbian Studies. Special Issue: Global Lesbian Cinema, volume 16, issue 3, pp. 340-353. Rich, B. Ruby (1981) 'Mädchen in Uniform: From Repressive Tolerance to Erotic Liberation', in Jump Cut, volume 24-25, March 1981, pp. 44-50. WEEK 4 Gender Performativity Film: Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (Fassbinder, 1972) Literature: Butler, Judith 'Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire', in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 1-34 WEEK 5 Colouring in Characters Film: Angst essen Seele auf (Fassbinder, 1974) Literature: Dyer, Richard 'The Matter of Whiteness, in White: Essays on Race and Culture (New York and London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 1-40 Neale, Steve 'Masculinity as Spectacle' in Cohan, Steven, and Hark, Ina Rae (eds.) Screening the Male (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 9 - 20 WEEK 6 Gender and Culture Film: Yasemin (Bohm, 1988) Literature: Anderson, Susan C. (2002) 'Outsiders, Foreigners and Aliens in Cinematic or Literary Narratives by Bohm, Dische, Dörrie, and Ören', in The German Quarterly, volume 75, number 2, Spring 2002, pp. 144-159. Gökturk, Deniz 'Turkish Delight - Migrant Fright: Migrant Identities in Transnational Cinema' in Deniz Derman, Karen Ross and Nevena Dakovic (eds.) Mediated Identities (Istanbul: Bilgi University Press, 2001) WEEK 7: Femmeinisation Film: Aimée & Jaguar (Färberböck, 1999) Literature: Dawson, Leanne (2012) 'Aimée, Jaguar and Butlerian Gender Melancholia' in Evans, Owen, and Harper, Graeme (eds.) Studies in European Cinema, November 2012, pp. 35- 52. Whatling, Clare 'Fantastic Desires' in Screen Dreams: Fantasising Lesbians in Film (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), pp. 53 - 78 WEEK 8: Sexuality and Culture Film: Lola+Bilidikid (Ataman, 1999) Literature: Clark, Christopher (2007) 'Transculturation, Transe Sexuality, and Turkish Germany: Kutlu' Ataman's Lola und Bilidikid', in German Life and Letters, volume 59, issue 4, pp. 555-572 Tapinc, Husseyin 'Masculinity, Femininity and Turkish Male Homosexuality', in Modern Homosexualities: Fragments of Lesbian and Gay Experience, ed, Plummer, Ken (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 39 - 51 WEEK 9: Transculturalism Film: Auf der anderen Seite (Akin, 2007) Literature: De Lauretis, Teresa (1988) 'Sexual Indifference and Lesbian Representation', in Theatre Journal, volume 40number 2, May 1998, pp. 155 - 177 Lewis, Rachel (2012) 'Towards a Transnational Lesbian Cinema', in Journal of Lesbian Studies volume 16, issue 3, pp. 273-290 WEEK 10: Revision Feed-forward discussion of student's responses to fictional exam questions (in place of past papers); student queries.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 50%, Coursework 50%, Practical Exam 0%

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