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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - German

Undergraduate Course: Identity and Self in Contemporary German Literature (ELCG10037)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis option introduces students to literary renegotiations of questions of identity and self in contemporary German-language novels. Students will closely study two selected novels over four weeks respectively. Each novel will be accompanied by critical reading which will help students engage with and also reflect more widely on notions of gender, sexuality, race, class, the body, belonging, and postmigration that are at the core of the selected novels in an informed and critical way.
Course description Academic description:

Over the past few years, German literature has seen a growing number of novels that consciously engage with and renegotiate questions of identity and self. In this course students will closely study two selected novels. Each novel will be accompanied by critical reading which will help students engage with notions of gender, sexuality, race, class, the body, belonging, and postmigration that are at the core of the selected novels in an informed and critical way. Although this course is primarily designed to develop further students' critical reading skills and analytical thinking, it also invites students to draw wider conclusions from their reading and to reflect on identity and self in relation to other cultural production and current debates.

Course outline:

The course focusses on two novels. After an introductory session, we will spend 4 weeks on each of the novels respectively. The first three weeks will focus on specific themes and concepts that the novel suggests whereas the fourth week will be dedicated to activities during which students will consolidate their learning and have the opportunity to ask wider questions about the issues/concepts at hand, in literature but also in German society more broadly: a student-led roundtable discussion after the first novel and a class discussion led by the tutor after the second novel where we will revisit (some of) the points we discussed in the roundtable discussion, now in comparison to the second novel, and thereby also trace the students' learning process. In the process we will look into the debates that have shaped the German cultural, social and political landscapes in recent years. The final session will draw our discussions together and prepare students for the final essay.

Student learning experience:

The course is taught in 10 two-hour seminars over one semester. A dossier is provided in advance of the course with points for discussion and other important information that will be helpful for the class discussion. Students will listen to brief presentations on the texts and their contexts when appropriate, but most of the class will centre on workshop-based discussion.

As one of the key teaching methods is student-led learning, which encourages learners to exercise initiative, responsibility and independence, and manage their learning activities and work with others, students are encouraged to form Autonomous Learning Groups to discuss the primary and secondary texts before each class. Every week one of the ALGs will be asked to report back to the class on their discussions and to explain relevant terms in the form of a brief presentation. These mini-presentations, though not formally assessed, will inform the student-led roundtable discussion and the tutor-led class discussion mentioned above. Students will be asked to prepare material and discussion points/questions in advance to both discussion sessions. Students will sum up their thoughts after the roundtable discussion in an assessed reflective paper and write an essay which will be due after the completion of the course.

The language of instruction and delivery of this course is a combination of German and English. We will discuss students' preferences in the first seminar.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  18
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course is assessed on coursework only. There are two coursework components:

1. Reflective paper based on the roundtable discussion (700 words) (30%)

2. End-of-course essay/project (1800 words; 70%)
Feedback General verbal feedback will be given regularly in class. Written feedback will be given on the reflective paper, which will include comments on the performance during the roundtable discussion, and the end-of-course essay. Students are also invited to schedule an individual feedback session where feedback on the reflective paper can be further discussed in person and where an essay plan for the end-of-course essay can also be discussed.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the primary and secondary literature related to this course.
  2. construct and express an argument in oral and written form about contemporary German novels and the ideas and concepts they engage with.
  3. analyse primary and secondary literature and engage in critical close reading, drawing on a range of sources.
  4. present and convey to peers specialised information on topics related to this course.
  5. exercise independence and initiative in research-related activities under the guidance of the tutor and in working with peers.
Reading List
Essential primary texts, for example (this is not an exhaustive list and I expect more novels to be published that would fit this course well):

(NB: only two of those will be taught in any given year)

Sasa Stanisic, Herkunft (Munich: Luchterhand, 2019)

Mithu Sanyal, Identitti (Munich: Hanser, 2021)

Sasha Marianna Salzmann, Im Menschen muss alles herrlich sein (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2021)

Kim De l'Horizon, Blutbuch (Cologne: DuMont, 2022)


Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1999)

Florian Coulmas, Identity: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)

Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality (Cambridge: Polity, 2016)

Rosalind C. Morris, ed., Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010)

Anne Ring Petersen and Moritz Schramm, '(Post-)Migration in the Age of Globalisation: New Challenges to Imagination and Representation', Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, 9.2 (2017): 1-12

Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (London: Heinemann, 1986)


Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 2004)

Raewyn Connell, Gender (Cambridge: Polity, 2002)

Franz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (London: Pluto, 2008)

Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989)

Edward W. Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (London: Penguin, 2003)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop graduate skills in all four clusters of ability: A) research and inquiry; B) personal and intellectual autonomy; C) personal effectiveness; and D) communication. In particular students will:

A) ask questions; analyse, synthesise, critically and methodically appraise thoughts to break down complex problems into manageable components; to evaluate information thoroughly; use information and knowledge effectively in order to abstract meaning from information and to share knowledge; conduct research and enquiry into relevant issues; have an understanding of contextually relevant ethics and values, self-awareness, mental flexibility and openness, resilience and a commitment to life-long learning;

B) develop reflective awareness of ethical dimensions, and responsibilities to others; be critically self-aware, self-reflective and self-manage in order to fully maximise potential; seek and value open feedback to help self-awareness; think independently, exercise personal judgment and take initiatives; think outside the box; be curious, creative, and take risks; collaborate and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen one's own views¿

C) develop an ability to prioritise; develop an ability to plan and effectively use resources to achieve goals; develop the ability to work collaboratively; effectively perform within team environments including the ability to recognise and capitalise on individuals' different thinking, experience and skills; have an ability to persuade, negotiate and influence others; seek and value open feedback to help their self-awareness of working with a team; use judgement to determine when it is appropriate to questions others;

D) develop oral communication of complex ideas and arguments using a range of media; enhance verbal communication ¿ including listening and questioning; communicate and persuade¿both orally and in writing; articulate and effectively explain information; be sensitive to and understand the diversity in people and different situations; be able to communicate complex ideas and arguments in writing; have the ability to produce clear, structured written work; articulate and effectively explain information.
Keywordsidentity; self; gender; sexuality; race; class; belonging; postmigration
Course organiserDr Frauke Matthes
Tel: (0131 6)51 1483
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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