skip to content

GEA3: Introduction to German 3 - German Culture

This paper is available for the academic year 2023-24.


GEA3 provides an introduction to German studies for ab initio students. It offers an interdisciplinary foray into  central aspects of German culture, including medieval and modern literature, linguistics, history and thought. Students are not expected to have any prior knowledge in these areas. The aim of the course is to give students a better sense of what German studies at Cambridge entail and which courses they may want to take at Part IB (their second year) and Part II (the fourth and final year).

GEA3 covers the five topics below, plus a module on literary commentary.


HISTORY - Imperial Germany 1871-1918

  • Bismarck’s Chancellorship
  • The Reign of Wilhelm II

MODERN LITERATURE 1 - Heine (from October 2024)

  • Heine: selected poems


  • Kafka: Die Verwandlung

FILM - Akin (from October 2024)

  • Akin: Auf der anderen Seite


  • Marx and Engels: Das Kommunistische Manifest


  • Three female-voiced lyrics from the canon of early German minnesang (to be replaced from October 2024 by Herzog Ernst).

LINGUISTICS - Language and Lexicography

  • Konrad Duden: Deutsche Rechtschreibung

Many of the lectures are simultaneously GE1 lectures, but lecturers will make provision for the ab initio students present.

Preparatory reading: 

Students should familiarise themselves with the materials for all topics so that they can make informed choices, as they move through the year, about the four topics on which they would like to be supervised. Before coming to Cambridge, students should concentrate on the texts for those modules for which lectures are scheduled in the first term (Michaelmas). In 2023-24, those modules are: History, Modern Literature and Thought.

A preparatory reading list can be found here.

Teaching and learning: 

Two lectures are devoted to each topic, with an additional session on critical commentary and textual analysis. It is expected that students attend all lectures and that they have supervisions on the Modern Literature topic plus three further topics. Those four supervisions will all take place in the Lent term. There will be two revision supervisions in the Easter term. In most cases, students will be seen by more than one supervisor over the course of their studies for this paper. Supervisions will be arranged centrally, by the course convenors.

The GEA3 Moodle site, with learning resources, can be accessed here (for current students with Raven password).


Assessment is by end of year examination, for which candidates answer three questions. The Kafka text is examined by an extract for commentary: this question is compulsory. There are essay questions on the other four topics: candidates may choose any two.

Course Contacts: 
Andrew Webber (Michaelmas Term)
Sarah Colvin (Lent and Easter Term)