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GE207-30 Reason, Romantics and Reactions: Germany in the Age of Revolutions

School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Antonia Hofstatter
Credit value
Module duration
22 weeks
60% coursework, 40% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

The module is a 30-CAT intermediate-year core module for intermediate-year students on German single honours or 'German with' courses, and is also available to other intermediate-year students studying German in combination with a range of other subjects, and expands student choice. It complements but does not necessitate prior knowledge of work covered under ‘GE109 Aspects of German Culture in the Age of Enlightenment’, a core module in the first year.

Module web page

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Provide students with an overview of political, social, and cultural developments in Germany from the period immediately preceding the French Revolution of 1789, via the Napoleonic wars, the French occupation, the restoration of Germany after 1815, to the rise of socialism in the period leading up to the failed German revolution of March 1848.
  • Locate within this historical framework key movements and currents in the history of ideas in Germany
  • Show students how these phenomena played a role in shaping perceptions and representations of society, nation, the modern individual, gender and ethnicity in the arts, sciences and philosophy
  • analyse in depth literary and fine art representations of society, nation, the modern individual, and relationships between the genders and between ethnic groups
  • enable students to engage critically with a variety of theoretical and critical approaches to the presentations of these phenomena in text and image.
  • develop students’ research and essay writing skills
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Term 1

Week 1: The Legacy of the Enlightenment in Germany: Continuities and Challenges
Week 2 : The Politics of the Enlightenment in Germany: Immanuel Kant, ‘Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’ (1784) - part 1
Week 3: Kant, ‘Was ist Aufklärung?’ - part 2
Week 4: Identity and difference: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Die Juden (1749) - part 1
Week 5: Lessing, Die Juden - part 2
Week 6: Reading week; no class
Week 7: Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell (1803-4) - part 1: Tell – assassin or revolutionary hero?
Week 8: Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell (1803-4) - part 2: “Wir sind ein Volk, und einig wollen wir handeln” – the construction of the ‘Swiss people’ in Wilhelm Tell
Week 9: Heinrich von Kleist, Prinz Friedrich von Homburg (1810) - part 1: exploring the tensions within ‘benevolent despotism
Week 10: Kleist, Homburg - part 2: Whose values, whose reality? Ambiguity and conflict in Homburg

Term 2

Week 1: The Romantic rebellion.
Week 2: Romanticism and Interiority: Ludwig Tieck Der blonde Eckbert
Week 3: Madness and death in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann - part 1
Week 4: Hoffmann, Der Sandmann - part 2
Week 5: Heinrich von Kleist Das Erdbeben in Chili
Week 6: Reading week
Week 7: Georg Büchner, Lenz
Week 8: Büchner, Dantons Tod - part 1
Week 9: Büchner, Dantons Tod - part 2
Week 10: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Das kommunistische Manifest

Term 3

Week 1: Revision session
Week 2: Essay & exam workshop

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Acquire a broad understanding of the key issues in German culture and society 1789 – 1848 gained through the study of written texts and other cultural products in the target language
  • Ability to access, read and critically analyse primary and secondary source materials in German
  • analyse and deploy a range of critical approaches to representations of society, nation, the modern individual, gender and ethnicity.
  • Knowledge and understanding of important aspects of the literatures, cultures, linguistic contexts, history, politics, social and economic structures of the country or countries of the target language.
  • the ability to organize, present, and defend ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument
  • the ability to analyse critically a range of materials in German and English (primary texts, secondary sources, contextualizing historical material)
  • the ability to conduct independent research using library and bibliographic resources and ICT skills.
Indicative reading list

Primary texts

Term 1
Immanuel Kant, ‘Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’ in Was ist Aufklärung? (Reclam)
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Die Juden (Reclam)
Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell (Reclam)
Heinrich von Kleist, Prinz Friedrich von Homburg (Reclam)

Term 2
Ludwig Tieck, Der blonde Eckbert (Reclam)
E.T.A. Hoffmann, Der Sandmann (Reclam)
Heinrich von Kleist, Das Erdbeben in Chili (Reclam)
Georg Büchner, Lenz / Der hessische Landbote (Reclam)
Georg Büchner, Dantons Tod (Reclam)
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Das kommunistische Manifest (Reclam)

View reading list on Talis Aspire


All modules delivered in SMLC are necessarily international. Students engage with themes and ideas from a culture other than that of the UK and employ their linguistic skills in the analysis of primary materials from a non-Anglophone context. Students will also be encouraged to draw on the experiences of visiting exchange students in the classroom and will frequently engage with theoretical and critical frameworks from across the world.

Subject specific skills

This module will develop students’ linguistic skills through engaging with primary materials in the target language. It will build students’ capacity to engage with aspects of German culture through analysis of this primary material and through seminar discussion aimed at deeper critical thinking. In particular, students’ awareness of German culture from 1789-1848 will be enhanced through lectures and seminars which engage in scholarship in the field.

Transferable skills

All SMLC culture modules demand critical and analytical engagement with artefacts from target-language cultures. In the course of independent study, class work and assessment students will develop the following skills: written and oral communication, creative and critical thinking, problem solving and analysis, time management and organisation, independent research in both English and their target language(s), intercultural understanding and the ability to mediate between languages and cultures, ICT literacy in both English and the target language(s), personal responsibility and the exercise of initiative.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 20 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Seminars 20 sessions of 1 hour 30 minutes (10%)
Private study 250 hours (83%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Read texts in original language, prepare seminars in groups (including seminar presentations), read secondary literature on the literary tests discussed and on the historical background. Prepare and write assessments,


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D
Weighting Study time
2000 word commentary essay 25%

a close textual analysis of an extract from the term 1 seminar reading to be chosen by the student from a range of suggested topics

3000 word essay 35%

a discussion of an essay question chosen by the student from a range of suggested topics

Online Examination 40%

~Platforms - AEP

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

Feedback will be provided in the course of the module in a number of ways. Feedback should be understood to be both formal and informal and is not restricted to feedback on formal written work.
Oral feedback will be provided by the module tutor in the course of seminar discussion. This may include feedback on points raised in small group work or in the course of individual presentations or larger group discussion.
Written feedback will be provided on formal assessment using the standard SMLC Assessed Work feedback form appropriate to the assessment. Feedback is intended to enable continuous improvement throughout the module and written feedback is generally the final stage of this feedback process. Feedback will always demonstrate areas of success and areas for future development, which can be applied to future assessment. Feedback will be both discipline-specific and focussed on key transferrable skills, enabling students to apply this feedback to their future professional lives. Feedback will be fair and reasonable and will be linked to the SMLC marking scheme appropriate to the module.

Past exam papers for GE207


This module is Core for:

  • Year 2 of UGEA-R200 Undergraduate German Studies
  • Year 2 of ULNA-R2Q2 Undergraduate German Studies with Linguistics
  • Year 2 of ULNA-R2A0 Undergraduate German with Chinese
  • Year 2 of UGEA-RP33 Undergraduate German with Film Studies
  • Year 2 of ULNA-R2R4 Undergraduate German with Spanish

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 2 of ULNA-RR14 Undergraduate French and German
  • Year 2 of UGEA-R2V1 Undergraduate German and History

This module is Core option list C for:

  • Year 3 of ULNA-R4RG Undergraduate Hispanic Studies and German
  • Year 3 of UFRA-R900 Undergraduate Modern Languages

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 3 of ULNA-R9Q2 Undergraduate Modern Languages with Linguistics
  • Year 3 of UPOA-M164 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and German