Order and Madness: Classical German Literature - GE585

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR I Cooper


GRMN3010 – German Language Level B1; or equivalent Level B1 of CEFR must be demonstrated





This module examines a selection of essential texts drawn from the period from 1775 to the first years of the nineteenth century, in which German literature achieved European stature. It looks at innovation and newly emerging confidence in the treatment of the major literary forms (prose fiction, drama, and lyric poetry). But it also studies the currents of violence, passion and madness which these forms were used to convey in an era defined by the iconoclasm of the Sturm und Drang movement and by revolutionary upheaval in France. We will look at the original angry young men of German literature (Werther, Die Räuber), dramas of love and betrayal (Faust), as well as prose fiction which retains its power to shock and puzzle even today (Kleist). The texts studied treat desire, problematic relationships of power and gender, and the crisis of individuals caught up in the painful birth of European modernity.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20


Also available at Level 6 (GE585)

Method of assessment

• Essay (2,000 words) – 50%
• Presentation (10 minutes) – 10%
• Examination (2 hours) – 40%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading:
Any edition:
Goethe, Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers (Bristol Classical Texts)
Goethe, Faust I (Deutscher Klassiker Verlag)
Goethe, Römische Elegien (Reclam)
Friedrich Hölderlin, Poems and Fragments (Penguin bilingual edition)
Heinrich von Kleist, Sämtliche Erzählungen (Deutscher Klassiker Verlag)
J. M. R. Lenz, Die Soldaten and Der Hofmeister (Reclam)
Schiller, Die Räuber (Bristol Classical Texts)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate critical knowledge and understanding of core topics in classical German literature, e.g. 'Sturm und Drang', the significance of the major literary forms (drama, prose fiction, poetry) at this time, and the different uses to which these forms were put;
- Demonstrate competence in applying this understanding within new and differing contexts (e.g. to see formal innovation in relation to cultural-historical context);
- Demonstrate the ability to analyse key texts (both primary and secondary) critically and to assess different genres of writing from the period 1775 to the first decade of the nineteenth century;
- Demonstrate close reading and analytical skills, including the application of critical thinking to the study of German literature.

In addition, on successfully completing the module Level 6 students will also be able to:
- Demonstrate confident and efficient close reading and analytical skills, including the application of critical thinking to the study of literature;
- Carry out additional research and critical thinking in both written assessments and seminar topics that shows an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge;
- Demonstrate thorough, detailed, and systematic knowledge and understanding of core texts of the German canon;
- Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the relationship between major German authors and cultural-historical as well as social-historical conditions;
- Demonstrate a systematic understanding of key aspects of current critical approaches to classical German literature;
- Demonstrate the ability to analyse key texts and other materials critically at a high level, and to appreciate the limitations as well as the potentialities of these approaches to the literary text.

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.