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GE109-30 Power and Passion: The Makings of Modern German Culture.

School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
James Hodkinson
Credit value
Module duration
21 weeks
50% coursework, 50% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description


Module web page

Module aims

The aims of this module are:
(1) to provide an introduction to the intellectual and literary currents that shaped German culture in the second half of the eighteenth century as it emerged as a national culture of European significance;
(2) to provide an introduction to the ways in which individual works of literature can be read and interpreted in relation to the larger social, political and cultural context, via the study of selected representative texts from the period 1770-1786;
(3) to provide an introduction to the skills needed for a critical interpretation of works from the main literary genres (poetry, narrative prose, drama).

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.

This module explores how social and intellectual change in mid-eighteenth-century Germany unleashed an explosion of new culture. It follows the growth of an increasingly literate, educated German middle class, which seeks to express its own passionate views and affirm its own identity through writing. In so doing this new generation of writers clashes with an antiquated social hierarchy and the vested power interests of a corrupt aristocracy. The texts we study, by pivotal writers such as Lessing, Goethe and Schiller, are on one level works of political and social criticism, though they also open out questions of psychology, emotionality, belonging, love, freedom, sexuality and artistic expression. In so doing German writers of the era make a name both for themselves and place their language and culture on the map of Europe - effectively laying the foundations of modern German culture in the process.

Learning outcomes

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

  • By the end of this module, students should have gained insight into the social, political, intellectual and cultural forces shaping the formation of Modern Germany in the late 18th century, should be be able to illustrate these developments through the analysis of literary texts across several genres and present their findings lucidly in an appropriate academic written form.
  • have gained knowledge and critical understanding of a key period in the culture and history of Germany and insight into the range and variety of its cultural practices;
  • be able to apply this knowledge in the independent critical analysis of a range of set texts from the period 1770-1786.
Indicative reading list

Those students beginning their course with post ‘A’ Level German (i.e. those taking GE101 as their
core language module) will study the following texts

  • Goethe, Selected Poetry (Penguin Classics, ed. And with an introduction by
    David Luke)
  • Goethe, Die Leiden des jungen Werther (Reclam)
  • Lessing, Emilia Galotti (Reclam)
  • Schiller, Kabale und Liebe (Reclam)

Those students beginning their course without post ‘A’ Level German (i.e. those taking GE103 as
their core language module) should access the texts in the following English translations:

  • Goethe, Selected Poetry (Penguin Classics, ed. with an introduction by
    David Luke) – as above, as the text contains translations
  • Goethe, The Sufferings of Young Werther (Penguin)
  • Emilia Galotti. A tragedy, in five acts. Translated from the German of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing by Benjamin Thompson · Plays: Friedrich Schiller: ‘Intrigue and Love’ and ‘Don Carlos’ by Friedrich Schiller, trans. By Gordon Craig (German Library S)

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 in the age of enlightenment 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 21 sessions of 2 hours (14%)
Private study 258 hours (86%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Students will be expected to:

  1. read primary texts in the original German, with the support of English translations or through the medium of those translations for ab initio students of German.
  2. Follow a weekly tutorial plan in which their thinking, interpretation and note-taking are guided in preparation for seminar participation.
  3. Conduct individual research into appropriate secondary materials to support their understanding of the texts
  4. access a range of approved online media (performances of plays, poetry readings) to accustom themselves with performances of the works examined.
  5. plan and prepare coursework (essay and commentary)


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 C2
Weighting Study time
Assessed Essay 50%

A 3,000 word summative essay, to be submitted on Tuesday, Week 1, Term 3.

Online Examination 50%

~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 GE109


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-R2Q2 Undergraduate German Studies with Linguistics
  • Year 1 of ULNA-R2A0 Undergraduate German with Chinese
  • Year 1 of ULNA-R2R4 Undergraduate German with Spanish

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-RR14 Undergraduate French and German
  • Year 1 of UGEA-R2V1 Undergraduate German and History
  • Year 1 of UGEA-RW24 Undergraduate German and Theatre Studies

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of UFRA-R900 Undergraduate Modern Languages

This module is Core option list A for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-R2Q3 Undergraduate German and Linguistics

This module is Core option list B for:

  • Year 1 of ULNA-R2L4 Undergraduate German and Economics (4-year)

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 1 of UGEA-RP33 Undergraduate German with Film Studies