Module Catalogue 2024/25

GER2013 : Nature and the Environment in German-language Cultures (Inactive)

GER2013 : Nature and the Environment in German-language Cultures (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Bernhard Malkmus
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Code Title
GER2061Level C (HE Advanced) German
Co Requisite Comment

Level C German or equivalent


This module looks at the various historical tributaries to contemporary green culture in the German-speaking world. It engages with perennial traditions such as Romanticism, the concern with Heimat and outdoor culture as well as more recent political and social movements such as nature preservation, anti-nuclear power protests and the large-scale energy transition. By engaging with aesthetic, scientific and political documents we seek to explore the contribution German-language cultures have made to reflecting the relation between humans and their natural environments. Through close readings, discussion platforms and writing exercises students will train their presentation and writing skills and will sharpen their awareness of the relevance of these traditions for understanding and coping with the challenges of the current global ecological crisis.

Outline Of Syllabus

- Framing the discussion: Erich Fromm: "To Have or To Be"

Animals and Culture
- animals in fables, fairy tales, folklore
- the cultural history of the horse (Ulrich Raulff)
- excerpt from Ernst Weiß: "Der Aristokrat" (novel)
- excerpt from Bernhard Malkmus: "Luchse" (cultural history)
- Byambasuren Davaa: "Die Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel" (documentary film)

Nature and Culture
- Nature writing; nature poetry
- Nature and art
- Alexander von Humboldt: "Ansichten der Natur"(travelogue)
- Werner Herzog: "Antarctica" (documentary film)

Ecology and Politics
- history of the conservation movement: the example of the National Park Bavarian Forest
- history of the political green movement post-WWII
- Discussion platforms:
- cultural/political solutions or technological solutions?
- Nuclear power, renewable energy and energy transition
- intergenerational justice

- Christa Wolf: "Störfall" (novel)
- Andreas Veiel: "Ökozid" (film)

- Romanticism
- Heimat and Wanderlust
- Climate Change and the Anthropocene
- environmental ethics and intergenerational justice

- Edgar Reitz: "Die andere Heimat: Chronik einer Sehnsucht" (film)
- Thomas Riedelsheimer, "Rivers and Tides" (documentary film)

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

- In-depth knowledge about aesthetic and scientific traditions of engaging with the natural world in the German-language tradition
- Ability to express ideas about the relationship between humans and animals throughout history
- In-depth knowledge about the complex historical roots of green thinking in German-language cultures
- Familiarity with aesthetic traditions that contribute to this tradition
- Familiarity with central aspects of the current ecological crisis and their ethical and political underpinnings
- Awareness of the complexity of environmental issues and their central role in our understanding of future challenges
- Ability to express ideas about intergenerational justice
- Awareness of the importance of culture and culture change for issues such as Climate Change
- Familiarity with the UN SDGs

Intended Skill Outcomes

- Ability to follow lectures in German and to take notes on lectures
- Ability to read a variety of shorter German text genres
- Ability to formulate independent ideas about these materials
- Ability to conduct group work and participate actively in classroom discussions
- Improvement of German reading comprehension
- Improvement of German listening comprehension
- Improvement of English and German writing skills
- Ability to give a brief oral presentation in German as part of a team work exercise
- Ability to question and problematize ideas

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1167:00167:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module is designed to help students to further develop the skills they have acquired in their introductory courses and hone their abilities to apply them to new, intellectually stimulating topics. The mixture of lectures and seminars will provide the opportunity for students to (1) acquire research-led in-depth knowledge of this field of study and its wider significance, and (2) to use the acquired knowledge as a basis for classroom discussions of the key sources and the issues raised in the scholarship. The course is designed to encourage students to apply the critical abilities and contextual knowledge they acquired to the specific case studies. Lectures will provide students with an introduction to the main issues covered by the module. Seminars will be used for student-active discussions, thus enabling students to develop their interpersonal skills and to practise their ability to articulate ideas.The class is taught in both German and English.

New collaborative learning formats will be used among small groups of students (2-3 individuals). Part of this format will be the preparation of a non-assessed oral presentation on a subject of their choice relating to the issues explored in the module. This will develop students’ oral presentation skills and, additionally, enable them to practise constructing coherent and reasoned arguments.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination902A50set exam in English
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M50A 2,000 word essay to be written in English or German
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MA practice essay, set in week 4, to be submitted in week 6. Length: 750-1,000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessed essay will allow students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the module’s main topics, and to produce a reasoned and coherent argument in writing. The essay will be based on individual study and encourages students to carry out independent critical research. In addition, the essay will enable students to show evidence of the following skills: bibliographical work, word-processing, footnoting and referencing.
The take-home exam will allow students to demonstrate a comprehensive and contextually embedded understanding of the knowledge acquired throughout the semester, an ability to structure and interconnect information to produce coherent arguments in writing, and versatility in applying it to specific new contexts.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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