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GE10: German literature, thought and history, since 1910

This paper will be permanently suspended with effect from the academic year 2022–23. Two new papers will be announced as replacements: they will be known as GE12 and GE13, and will replace content from the current GE9, GE10, GE13 and GE15.

This paper offers a wide range of attractive options relating to developments that shaped the German-speaking world as we know it today.

The twentieth century involved Germany in several political upheavals, two World Wars, a Cold War, division, and reunification. It was also a period of peculiarly intense cultural and intellectual ferment. The options for study available in paper Ge 10 reflect the complexity of these developments, and the senses in which they are interconnected. Historical topics include the Weimar Republic (that frail democracy which emerged from the First World War), National Socialism, the divided Germany of 1945-1990, and the Berlin Republic. The thought topics include psychoanalysis, theories of textual interpretation, theories of art and culture which run from the Frankfurt School to the present day; they also cover the philosophies of Hannah Arendt in relation to German guilt and imperialism. The topics in literature and culture available in Section A include the pioneering film industry of the 1920s as well as such key developments in literary writing as modernist fiction (including Kafka and Thomas Mann), innovative approaches to the theatre (including Brecht and his successors), as well as critical engagements with what it has meant to identify and write as a woman.



Drama: politics and performance

Poetry: forms and functions

Modernist Fiction: Psyche and Space

Weimar Film and Visual Culture: Fantasy and Documentary

Post-war Fiction: Memory and History

Gender and Writing



Topics in German thought:

Psychoanalysis, theories of imperialism

Benjamin and Adorno, the question of German guilt



German history in the 20th century (1910-1945)

German history in the 20th century (1945-present)

Preparatory reading: 

See full reading list below.

Full reading list

Please see here.

Teaching and learning: 

Section A covers the literature and culture of the period and Section B covers the thought and history of the period. The reading lists for both indicate which authors and topics are available on the course, and each student covers an appropriate selection of this material. You are advised to consider which topics or types of writing will suit you best, and to seek the advice of a supervisor, or the course co-ordinator, on how best to combine your options and do the preparatory reading for them.

The lectures relating to this paper can be found in the lecture list published in The Reporter. Attendance at lectures is optional. However, students who do not attend the lectures may find themselves at a disadvantage.

A normal course of supervisions consists of ten sessions at fortnightly intervals throughout the teaching year. Students who expect to answer two questions in Section A should expect to devote seven supervisions to this section, and two or three to Section B (although the final supervision may be reserved for general discussion and revision). Students who plan to answer two questions from Section B should expect to devote six supervisions to this section and three or four to Section A.

For the Ge.10 Moodle site, please see here.


The paper is divided into two sections. In the exam (3 hours in length) three questions must be answered, at least one from each section.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Leila Mukhida (For LT2022)
Prof Sarah Colvin (For MT 2021)