Undergraduate Course: Culture, Modernity and the City in the Weimar Republic (ELCG08013)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course examines how encounters with the modern city are represented in Weimar Republic culture, focusing on a selection of Bertolt Brecht's poems (1918-32), Fritz Lang's film 'M: Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder' (1931) and Irmgard Keun's novel 'Das kunstseidene Mädchen' (1932). The course prepares students for Honours-level study by training them in how to analyse these cultural representations and how to contextualize them using primary and secondary materials, including some materials that they have located independently.
In the Weimar Republic, urbanization was accompanied by rapid technological change and modernization, with the growth of motorized transport, the advent of the radio and the spread of cinema, and an increasingly sophisticated advertising industry. We will investigate how Brecht, Lang and Keun depict the modern city as a site of opportunity, risk and danger; how the characters in their works navigate its streets; what these characters' experiences reveal about gender, class and power relations; and how the characters and/or their communities deal with existential threats, ranging from the fight for economic survival to serial murder. We will investigate how Brecht's political poetry takes a clear stance in favour of Communism, alongside the more subtle ways in which the economic dislocation and political instability of the final years of the Weimar Republic are reflected in Lang's film and Keun's novel.
Students will learn how to analyse the style and themes of literature and film from the Weimar Republic, and how to contextualize them using primary sources in print collections and digital databases (the Bundesarchiv picture database; Deutsches Historisches Museum: Lebendiges Museum Online). Students will be trained in these research techniques in a workshop in week 2, before applying the techniques in their group presentation and end-of-course essay. The course thus prepares students for Honours-level study, including the independent research that they will undertake for long essays and dissertations.
1. The Coldness of the City: Course Introduction and Bertolt Brecht's Poetry
2. Workshop on Researching Weimar Culture: Sources and Contexts
Core text: Brecht's 'Ballade von der Kindesmörderin Marie Farrar'.
3. Poverty and Politics: Bertolt Brecht's Poetry
We will analyse a selection of the following poems in class: 'O Falladah!', 'Die Nachtlager', and the cycle 'Proletarische Wiegenlieder' (comprising four poems). Students will be asked to think about how they might contextualize these poems using the resources introduced in week 2.
4. Poetry in Context: Group PowerPoint Presentations
Additional session in week 4: screening of Fritz Lang, 'M: Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder'
5. Crime, Surveillance and Detection: 'M: Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder'
6. The Murderer as Victim? 'M: Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder'
7. Female Agency, Fashion and Film: Part I of Irmgard Keun's 'Das kunstseidene Mädchen'
8. Female Experiences of Berlin: Part II of 'Das kunstseidene Mädchen'
9. Performing Domesticity: Part III of 'Das kunstseidene Mädchen'
10. Comparative Criticism: Essay Preparation Session
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Co-requisites|| Students MUST also take:
German 2 Language (ELCG08008)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Students should have German-language skills at CEFR level B1 or above. Entry to this course may be subject to a language test on arrival and is at the discretion of the course organiser. Visiting Students must also take German 2 Language (ELCG8008) as a co-requisite.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
||Students will receive feedback on their group PowerPoint presentation and performance in the presentation Q&A, and on their end-of-course essay.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Construct clear and coherent arguments about culture, modernity and the city in the Weimar Republic;
- Illustrate these arguments using close analysis of the themes, form and style of cultural representations;
- Contextualize and critique these cultural representations using primary and secondary sources;
- Tailor the presentation of their research to different formats (PowerPoint presentations and essays);
- Present their research orally and respond judiciously to such research undertaken by others.
|A. Set texts and film:|
Keun, Irmgard, Das kunstseidene Mädchen (Munich: Claasen, 1992) ESSENTIAL
Lang, Fritz, M: Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (1931) ESSENTIAL
If you wish to buy the film on DVD, the following version has English subtitles and comes with a good deal of useful documentary material (including an audio commentary, an essay by a film historian, and an interview with Fritz Lang):
M: A Film by Fritz Lang, dir. Fritz Lang, Eureka Entertainment Ltd (2003)
A handout with selected poems by Bertolt Brecht will be made available on LEARN. ESSENTIAL.
B. Secondary literature on Brecht:
Brady, Philip, 'Aus einem Lesebuch für Städtebewohner: On a Brecht Essay in Obliqueness', German Life and Letters, 26 (1972), 160-72 FURTHER
Geppert, Hans Vilmar, '"Wenn ich mit dir rede kalt und ungemein"? Bert Brechts Lesebuch für Städtebewohner im Kontext von Rundfunk, Film und Roman der 20er Jahre', in Brechts Lyrik: neue Deutungen, ed. Helmut Koopman (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1999), pp. 49-73 FURTHER
Kittstein, Ulrich, Das lyrische Werk Bertolt Brechts (Stuttgart and Weimar: J. B. Metzler, 2012), esp. pp. 104-19 on Aus dem Lesebuch für Städtebewohner FURTHER
Knopf, Jan, Brecht Handbuch, 5 vols (Stuttgart and Weimar: J. B. Metzler, 2001), II: Gedichte. See entries on individual poems and Aus dem Lesebuch für Städtebewohner FURTHER
Kuhn, Tom, 'Introduction', in Empedocles' Shoe: Essays on Brecht's Poetry, ed. Tom Kuhn and Karen Leeder (London: Methuen, 2002), pp. 5-36 RECOMMENDED
Midgley, David, 'The Poet in Berlin: Brecht's City Poetry of the 1920s', in Empedocles' Shoe: Essays on Brecht's Poetry, ed. Tom Kuhn and Karen Leeder (London: Methuen, 2002), pp. 89-106 RECOMMENDED
Speirs, Ronald, '"Of Poor B.B." and Others', in Empedocles' Shoe: Essays on Brecht's Poetry, ed. Tom Kuhn and Karen Leeder (London: Methuen, 2002), pp. 37-52 FURTHER
Whitaker, Peter, Brecht's Poetry: A Critical Study (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985) FURTHER
C. Secondary literature on Fritz Lang, M:
Evans, Richard J., Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany, 1600-1986 (Oxford: OUP, 1996), pp. 572-610 RECOMMENDED
Gandert, Gero, ed., Fritz Lang: M, Cinemathek 3 (Hamburg: Marion von Schröder, 1963) FURTHER
Gunning, Tom, The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity (London: British Film Institute, 2000), esp. pp. 163-202 FURTHER
Hoffheimer, Michael H., 'Artistic Convention and Natural Law: Didactic Treatment of Justice and Authority in Works of Fielding, Hawthorne, and Fritz Lang', Temple Law Review, 63 (1990), 483-509 (esp. pp. 502-9) FURTHER
Kaes, Anton, M, rev. edn (London: British Film Institute, 2001) RECOMMENDED
Kracauer, Siegfried, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, rev. edn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), pp. 218-22 FURTHER
Lange, Horst, 'Nazis vs. the Rule of Law: Allegory and Narrative Structure in Fritz Lang's M', Monatshefte, 101.2 (Summer 2009), 170-85 FURTHER
Ostrowicz, Philipp A., 'M und die Ordnungen des Films', in Schattenbilder- Lichtgestalten: Das Kino von Fritz Lang, ed. Maik Bozza and Michael Herrmann (Bielefeld: transcript, 2015), pp. 173-90 FURTHER
Roper, Katherine, 'Sounds of the City in M and Emil und die Detektive', Colloquia Germanica, 44.3 (2011), 303-29 FURTHER
Tatar, Maria, Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 153-72 RECOMMENDED
D. Secondary literature on Keun, Das kunstseidene Mädchen:
Ankum, Katharina von, 'Ich liebe Berlin mit einer Angst in den Knien: Weibliche Stadterfahrung in Irmgard Keuns Das kunstseidene Mädchen', German Quarterly, 67.3 (1994), 369-88 FURTHER
Ankum, Katharina von, 'Material Girls: Consumer Culture and the "New Woman" in Anita Loos' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Irmgard Keun's Das kunstseidene Mädchen', Colloquia Germanica: Internationale Zeitschrift für Germanistik, 27.2 (1994), 159-72 RECOMMENDED
Ankum, Katharina von, Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture (1997) FURTHER
Boa, Elizabeth, 'Warring Pleasures and their Price: Sex in the City in Irmgard Keun's Das kunstseidene Mädchen and Andrea Maria Schenkel's Kalteis', German Life and Letters, 62 (2009), 343-58 RECOMMENDED
Feldhaus, Julia, 'Not Without My Mommy: The New Woman¿s Mother Figure in Irmgard Keuns Novels Gilgi: eine von uns (1931) and Das kunstseidene Madchen (1932)', Monatshefte, 108 (2016), 510-34 FURTHER
Lensing, Leo A., 'Cinema, Society, and Literature in Irmgard Keun's Das kunstseidene Mädchen', The Germanic Review, 60.4 (1985), 129-41 FURTHER
McBride, Patrizia, 'Learning To See In Irmgard Keun's Das kunstseidene Mädchen', The German Quarterly, 84 (2011), 220-38 RECOMMENDED
Smail, Deborah, White-Collar Workers, Mass Culture and Neue Sachlichkeit in Weimar Berlin: A Reading of Hans Fallada's 'Kleiner Mann, was nun?', Erich Kästner's 'Fabian' and Irmgard Keun's 'Das kunstseidene Mädchen' (Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 1999) FURTHER
E. General Reading (including Collections of Primary Sources) on the Weimar Republic:
Eckardt, Wolf von, and Sander L. Gilman, Bertolt Brecht's Berlin: A Scrapbook of the Twenties (1993) FURTHER
Fulbrook, Mary, History of Germany 1918-2000: The Divided Nation, 4th edn (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2015), pp. 15-56 RECOMMENDED
Gleber, Anke, The Art of Taking a Walk: Flanerie, Literature and Film in Weimar Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). Chapter 10 is on Keun. FURTHER
Kaes, Anton, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg, The Weimar Republic Sourcebook (1994) RECOMMENDED
Kosta, Barbara, 'Cigarettes, Advertising, and the Weimar Republic's Modern Woman', in
Visual Culture in Twentieth-Century Germany: Text as Spectacle, ed. Gail Finney (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), pp. 134-153 FURTHER
McElligott, Anthony, The German Urban Experience, 1900-1945: Modernity and Crisis, Routledge Sources in History (London and New York: Routledge, 2001) FURTHER
Petro, Patrice, Joyless Streets: Women and Melodramatic Representation in Weimar Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989) FURTHER
Ward, Janet, Weimar Surfaces: Urban Visual Culture in 1920s Germany (2001) FURTHER
Weitz, Eric D., Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007) FURTHER
Willett, John, Art and Politics in the Weimar Period 1917-1933: The New Sobriety, rev. edn (New York: Da Capo, 1996) - RECOMMENDED
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||During this course, students will further develop graduate attributes and personal and professional skills in the following areas:
Research and enquiry: problem solving; analytical thinking; critical thinking; knowledge integration and application; handling complexity and ambiguity.
Personal and intellectual autonomy: self-awareness and reflection; independent learning and development; creative and inventive thinking.
Personal effectiveness: planning, organising and time management; team working; assertiveness and confidence; flexibility.
Communication: interpersonal skills; verbal and written communication; presentation; IT skills (PowerPoint presentations, use of online databases).
||Students may take up to two 10-credit German option courses with German 2. If additional spaces are available, students on the MA in German may request permission from the Course Organizers to take four 10-credit German option courses with German 2.
|Keywords||Weimar Republic,City,Culture,Bertolt Brecht,Irmgard Keun,Fritz Lang
|Course organiser||Prof Laura Bradley
Tel: (0131 6)50 3634
|Course secretary||Ms Ashley Stein
Tel: (0131 6)50 4465