Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - German

Undergraduate Course: The Contemporary Short Story in German (ELCG08009)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe short story has undergone a revival in twenty-first-century German-language literature. As a flexible genre it gives writers the freedom to 'play with' their literary ideas, that is, to try out new ways of approaching plot, character development, and/or setting. This makes the short story such an exciting genre to study, but also one through which we can learn, just on a few pages, about current trends in German-language writing. This course is particularly suited to students who wish to read, and compare, a range of different short stories by a variety of authors, develop their literary analytical skills, and gain deeper insights into the themes that are of concern to contemporary German-language writers and into the different techniques they employ to engage with them.
Course description In this course you will read a number of short stories by influential German-language writers. The two main aims of the course are: (1) to introduce you to themes and topics that have dominated contemporary German-language literature in order to broaden, as well as deepen, your knowledge of German literature; and (2) to develop your skills in literary analysis by practising close reading and applying comparative methodologies. Our class discussion and comparative readings will focus on: situating the stories in the contemporary German literary field; the significance of recurring themes and issues in contemporary (short story) writing; and the short story's specific narrative techniques in terms of form/composition, narrative perspective/s and voice, stylistic peculiarities, and other aesthetic devices. The key question is, then, how, as a genre, the short story can open up unique ways of engaging with the themes that have dominated recent German-language writing. Supporting critical reading will provide context to the themes/topics and/or give guidance on literary analysis when appropriate.

The course starts with an introduction to the short story as a genre and to short story theory with a specific view on the short story in the German context (incl. the differences between short story and other short prose genres such as novella, Erzählung, tale, and others). You will also be introduced to close reading as a technique. We will then focus on recurring themes and examine them by reading one story by a different author in each seminar, comparing it to the stories previously read on the course and paying particular attention to narrative techniques. Themes we are likely to discuss are: the everyday and the exceptional; the local and the global; loneliness and longing; marginality and universality; alterity and otherness; individuality and collectivity; generations; and gender. We will also look at a short story cycle and explore its treatment of a specific theme as well as its narratological specificity. By way of summarising our class discussions over the course of the semester, we will think about whether there is a specifically 'German' element in the stories we have studied.

The course is taught in 10 two-hour seminars over one semester. As the course focuses on student-led learning, you will prepare for the seminar in Autonomous Learning Groups. A dossier will be provided by the course organiser in advance of the course with points for discussion and other important information that will be helpful for our class discussion. You will listen to brief lecture-style presentations on theoretical/methodological issues by the course organiser when appropriate, but most of the class will center on workshop-based discussion.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites Students MUST also take: German 2 Language (ELCG08008)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesStudents 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).
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback General verbal feedback will be given regularly in class. Written electronic feedback will be given on the close reading assignment. Students are also invited to schedule an individual feedback session where this can be further discussed in person and where an essay plan for the end-of-course essay can also be discussed.

The end-of-course essay functions mainly as summative assessment and consequently only minimal (written electronic) feedback will be given on this.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contemporary German-language short stories.
  2. apply critical close reading skills and develop original ideas with reference to other critics' work.
  3. write and speak about contemporary German-language short stories using appropriate academic terminology and phrasing.
  4. carry out independent research under the guidance of the tutor.
  5. construct coherent arguments which show an awareness of the problems posed by the texts.
Reading List

Stories will be selected from the following collections and, if possible, made available via e-reserve:

Roman Ehrlich, Urwaldgäste (Cologne: DuMont, 2014)
Judith Hermann, Alice (Frankfurt a.M.: S. Fischer 2012 [2009]) (to be studied as short story cycle)
Clemens Meyer, Die stille Trabanten (Frankfurt a.M.: S. Fischer, 2016)
Terézia Mora, Die Liebe unter Aliens (Munich: Luchterhand, 2016)
Kathrin Röggla, Nachtsending (Frankfurt a.M.: S. Fischer, 2016)
Ulrike Almut Sandig, Buch gegen das Verschwinden (Frankfurt a.M.: Schoeffling, 2015)
Sasa Stanisic, Fallensteller (Munich: Luchterhand, 2016)


Herrmann, Elisabeth, Carrie Smith-Prei, and Stuart Taberner (eds), Transnationalism in Contemporary German-Language Literature (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2015)
Herrmann, Leonhard, and Silke Horstkotte, Gegenwartsliteratur: Eine Einführung, Lehrbuch Germanistik (Stuttgart and Weimar: Metzler, 2016)
Lohafer, Susan, Reading for Storyness: Preclosure Theory, Empirical Poetics, and Culture in the Short Story (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003)
Lützeler, Paul Michael, Erin McGlothlin, and Jennifer Kapczynski, eds., Gegenwartsliteratur: Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch / A German Studies Yearbook (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2002-)
Marven, Lyn, and Andrew Plowman, eds, The Short Story in German in the Twenty-First Century [title tbc] (forthcoming 2020)
May, Charles, The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice (New York: Maxwell Macmillan International)
May, Charles, ed., New Short Story Theories (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1994)
Oxford German Studies, 47.3 (2018), special issue on Ulrike Almut Sandig
Shaw, Valerie, The Short Story: A Critical Introduction (London: Longman, 1983)
Taberner, Stuart, Transnationalism and German-Language Literature in the Twenty-First Century (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
Journal: Short Fiction in Theory and Practice
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will further develop graduate attributes, 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.
Additional Class Delivery Information 10 2-hour synchronous seminar hours per week.
KeywordsGerman literature,contemporary,short story,narrative techniques,close reading
Course organiserDr Frauke Matthes
Tel: (0131 6)51 1483
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information