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GE13: Aspects of German-speaking Europe since 1945

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 deals with the literature, thought, and history of Germany, Austria and Switzerland since 1945, though it focuses mainly on contemporary Germany. It may be particularly attractive to those who have just spent a year in Germany. Those who have spent a year elsewhere will not, however, be at a disadvantage.

The recent period is remarkably rich, and it takes in the aftermath of the 'failed' socialist experiment in the GDR as well as the culture of the industrialised, 'postmodern' society of the FRG and the other German-speaking societies. This is a period in which a wide range of different forms of culture are taken seriously and where the feminine voice is heard particularly strongly. Challenges to authority are frequent, and there is ever greater awareness of the manipulative power of the media - the press, radio and television. Film also enjoys a strong revival. In political terms, Angela Merkel has been dominant since 2005 but the rise of the AfD, paralleling similar right-wing populist movements in other countries, raises questions both about the future of Europe and worries about the stability of Germany after Merkel’s departure.

The paper does not aim to cover every aspect but to concentrate on particularly fascinating features in which members of the Department have a strong research interest.


1. Contemporary German Politics, Culture and Society

2. Islam in German Culture

3. German Flucht Narratives from the Second World War to the Present

4. The 'Red Decade' and Political Violence in Germany

5. History and Identity in Germany 1945-2015

Preparatory reading: 

Peter C. Caldwell and Karrin Hanshew, Germany since 1945. Politics, Culture, and Society (London, 2018).

Sarah Colvin (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of German Politics and Culture (London, 2015).

Eva Kolinsky, W. van der Will (eds). The Cambridge Companion to Modern German Culture (Cambridge, 1998).

Ruth Wittlinger, German National Identity in the Twenty-First Century. A Different Republic After All? (Houndmills, 2010).

Jeffrey J. Anderson and Eric Langenbacher (eds), From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic: Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification (Oxford, 2010).

H. Glaser, Kleine deutsche Kulturgeschichte von 1945 bis heute (Frankfurt a.M., 2007).

H.-P. Schwarz (ed.), Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Eine Bilanz nach 60 Jahren (Munich, 2008).

Hannes Leidinger and Verena Moritz, Die Republik Österreich 1918/2008 (Vienna, 2008).

Full reading list

Please see the reading list for Ge.13 here.

Teaching and learning: 

Two lectures and one seminar are devoted to each topic and students will also attend a regular series of supervisions. Students are encouraged to attend all the lectures but would normally select four topics for study in supervisions. All lectures are accompanied by extensive handouts.

Learning resources:

The Moodle site for Ge.13 can be found here. Students should email the paper coordinator for the enrollment password.


The topics set will form the basis of examination questions. There will be two mutually-exclusive questions on each topic (EITHER/OR). There will also be several (mutually-exclusive) questions of a general nature relating to the themes of the paper. Students will be able to answer ANY three questions i.e. one each on three modules or one each on two modules plus a general question. Students also have the option of preparing a dissertation of 10,000 words on any aspect of the politics, society or culture (including film) of Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, instead of sitting the exam (the Optional Dissertation).

Course Contacts: 
Prof. Andrew Webber (Until September 2021)
Prof. Sarah Colvin (From October 2021)