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GER4014 : German Representations of the Holocaust

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Beate Muller
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To introduce students to representations of the Holocaust in German culture by engaging with suitable examples including literature, film, testimony, memoir/autobiography, and historiography.
To explore and compare genre-specific aspects of Holocaust representations.
To explore the range of perspectives on the Holocaust and their developments over time, from the occupational years to more recent representations in German-speaking cultures of Europe.
To introduce students to philosophical, ethical, moral, aesthetic, and political debates about the Holocaust, such as problems of witnessing, legitimacy of subject positions, representations and representability; authenticity and authority etc.
To introduce students to suitable Holocaust-related insights from trauma studies, memory research, and genocide studies.
To introduce students to key vocabulary on the Holocaust in both English and German.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Introduction
2. History of the Holocaust: background, war context, ideology
3. Representations of the Holocaust in cultural artefacts and in evidential genres
4. Early postwar Holocaust testimonies:
a) David Boder’s Voices project of 1946 (examples)
b) Jewish organizations and their testimonial endeavours
c) Children's wartime recollections
6. Nazi trials and their literary echoes: The Auschwitz Trial and Peter Weiss’s play Die Ermittlung (1965)
7. The persecution of Jews on silver screen: Frank Beyer’s film Jakob der Lügner (1975)
8. A female perspective: Ruth Klüger’s autobiography Weiter leben (1992) (excerpts only)
9. Feigning traumatic memory and the Holocaust ‘industry’: The case of Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Bruchstücke (1995)
10. Summary and conclusion

There will also be a slot on essay writing.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Synchronous online
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials131:0013:00To engage with recorded online lectures as appropriate.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities31:003:00To focus on essay writing skills
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00PiP
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities331:0033:00To include pre- and post-lecture reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study681:0068:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The scheduled teaching and learning activities will provide the opportunity for students to (1) acquire lecture-based in-depth knowledge of the significance of key characteristics of the sources and materials studied, and (2) to use this knowledge as a basis for discussions of the key sources and the issues raised in the scholarship, thereby encouraging students to apply the general principles and wider knowledge acquired to the specific examples on the syllabus. The synchronous teaching and learning activities will provide the students with opportunities to practice critical engagement with the primary sources by focusing on the module’s key topics and by reading these primary sources with the help of analytical concepts gleaned from selected secondary sources.

Independent study and structured guided learning activities will enable students to read primary and secondary sources in preparation for scheduled learning activities and for assessment purposes.
The module will be partly taught in German, partly in English. This will ensure that students practice their German while English can function as a meta-language to enhance the intellectual quality of debates.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M100A 3,500 word essay to be written either in English or German*.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay2MA practice essay, set in week 1, to be submitted in week 5. Word limit: 1000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

*Students will have a choice whether to write the essay in English or in German

The long essay will allow students to explore one topic in depth, thus giving them an opportunity to use the knowledge acquired in the module to practice academic writing, thinking, and working. The complexity of the field - Holocaust representations – and the richness of the available sources, both primary and secondary, together with the fact that this is a research-led final year option at level D means that it is pedagogically entirely appropriate to ask for just one, but a longer piece of academic writing from the students.

The practice essay together with guidance on how to write an extended essay to be given in class will prepare students for the assessed essay.

Students may choose whether to write their essays in English or German, but the language performance is not going to be factored into the mark given. This is because the module is a cultural content, not a language module. It is nevertheless important to give students the choice to use their German language skills actively for writing their essays if they wish to do so.

Reading Lists