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Semester 1

German Colonialism: History, Memory, Controversy (ELCG08014)


European Languages and Cultures - German





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Students should have German language skills at CEFR level B1 or above; entry to this course above introductory level may be subject to a language test on arrival and is at the discretion of the course organiser. Visiting Students should also take as a co-requisite German 2 Language (ELCG08008).

Course Summary

This course examines the history and legacy of German colonialism using literary texts, historical sources and coverage of public debates from the late 19th century to the present day. The course prepares students for Honours-level study by familiarising them with the use of critical theory and training them to carry out research into public discourse.

Course Description

In order to consider the ongoing impact of colonialism on German society, this course draws on excerpts of literary texts, political speeches and mass media including advertising and film from the late 19th and early 20th century. Using these artefacts, we will consider the historical relationship between imperialism and white nationalism in Europe, and reflect on the legacy of earlier colonial ideology and practice on phenomena such as National Socialism, immigration policy, representation and contemporary white supremacy. In particular, we will focus on the debate about the history and legacy of German colonialism and how this has developed in Germany in the post-war period, focusing on issues around public space, statues and street names from the 1960s to the present day. Finally, we will turn to the resurgence of colonialism as a theme in recent literature and historiography and examine the state of play in contemporary (international) debates about the colonial past. The course s range of primary and theoretical texts will provide a wealth of examples upon which you will draw to develop a toolbox of critical frameworks through which to understand German colonialism both as a historical event and as determining factor in contemporary discussions of race and social justice. Weekly tasks will reinforce what you have learned and provide opportunities to ask questions.In addition to producing an individual close reading of (an excerpt of) a literary text, which will provide a testing ground for your analytical skills and theoretical learning, this course will develop your abilities at independent research, synthesising information, collaborative working and writing for a non-academic audience. You will each join an ALG (Autonomous Learning Group) of 4-5 students, who will work together throughout the course to support one another and discuss reading between our sessions. You will produce reports based on these meetings that summarise what you have discovered and discussed. In the second half of the course, your ALG will use the research they have done to produce an informational poster suitable for non-expert audiences on the basis of one of their ALG reports. You will be collectively responsible for assembling relevant materials - which may include interviews, pictures, primary historical documents or information from social media - and judging how best to present it to your audience in an engaging way. Examples of work done by previous students will be provided for all assessment tasks.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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