GER4016 : The Future: Its History and Its Future (Inactive)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module investigates paradigmatic shifts in how time has been conceptualized over the past 250 years in European cultures, with a particular focus on the idea of the future. We will investigate how concepts of the future have changed in the light of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the current global ecological crisis, and how these changes have shaped our perception of and engagement with the present. We will engage with a selection of contemporary literature and visual arts, for example Ingeborg Bachmann, Max Frisch, W.G. Sebald; Neo Rauch, Werner Herzog, and Berlin School movies. Excerpts from Enlightenment philosophy, 19th-century science writing, and 20th century political theory in the German language tradition will provide historical contexts.
With contemporary thinkers such as Aleida Assmann, Eva Horn and Lucian Hoelscher we are asking ourselves: What kind of future do we have as humans in an increasingly anthropomorphic world?

Outline Of Syllabus

I. Digitisation
Man and machine, Politics of the digital revolution

II.       The History of the Future
Textbook: Lucian Hölscher, "Die Entdeckung der Zukunft"
Central changes of Western concepts of the future since 1750
Primary texts by Kant, Hölderlin, Haeckel, Freud

III.       The Globalization of the Future
The global dissemination of Western concepts of the future
Primary texts by Benjamin, Arendt, Anders, Beck
Films by Fritz Lang and Christian Petzold

IV.       The Anthropocene
Seminal theories on humanity as a geological agent
Visual reflections: Werner Herzog, Neo Rauch, Andreas Gursky
Literary reflections: Ingeborg Bachmann, Max Frisch, WG Sebald

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion21:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1162:00162:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The mixture of lectures and seminars 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 classroom 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. Lectures will provide students with an introduction to the main issues covered by the module. Seminars will be used for student-active discussion of the issues, in order to enable students to develop their interpersonal skills and to practise their ability to articulate ideas. Students will also be expected to prepare a non-assessed presentation on a subject of their choice relating to the texts and issues explored in the module. This will develop their oral presentation skills and, additionally, enable them to practise constructing coherent and reasoned arguments.
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 individual research. In addition, the essay will enable students to show evidence of the following skills: bibliographical work, word-processing, footnoting and referencing. The exam will allow students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the second half of the module, an ability to retain information and apply it to specific contexts without textual support, to produce coherent arguments in writing.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601A30n/a
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M70A 2500 word essay to be written in German and submitted at the end of Semester 1
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MA practice essay, set in week 1, to be submitted in week 5. Length: approximately 1,000 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will allow students to explore one topic in depth, whilst the exam will ensure that students read widely and that they are able to answer questions on a variety of relevant texts and topics. The assessments will therefore test different skills. They will establish whether students can relate acquired political, contextual and philosophical knowledge to key sources studied. The exam will test both breadth of knowledge through working closely with a source.

Reading Lists