Life After Modernism? An Introduction to Postmodernist Literature in Germany - GE587

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
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5 15 (7.5) DR HMA Kunzelmann







'Postmodernism', by definition, resists and obscures the idea of modernism and implies a complete knowledge of the modern which has been surpassed by a new age (Appignanesi, Garrat 1995, 4). With the advent of the digital age, our concepts and perception of literature and art, theory and economic history have changed dramatically and a new understanding of what reality is pervades all aspects of life. German literature after 1965 mirrors this development in multiple ways and authors have incorporated a multitude of postmodern aesthetic strategies in their writing processes and works, notably changing the character of German-language literature from a literature of crisis and "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" (coming to terms with the past) to a literature that, especially after 1990, addresses problems of self-representation, the hypermodernist 'loss of reality' and power-relations in the global context of the western world.
This module introduces a number texts representative of postmodern literature in German, and provides methods for the analysis of these heterogeneous texts and new forms of authorial self-representation, based on key theoretical texts like Roland Barthes’ "Death of the Author", “Text and Pleasure” or Michel Foucault’s “What is an Author” to outline principle changes of literary production and authorship after 1965.
Narrative techniques like pastiche, intertextuality, the deconstruction of textual coherence and ironic representations of ideological concepts by means of combining contradictory genres will be analysed and put into the socio-political context of German-speaking countries.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

2 hours per week


Available under codes GE587 (Level 5) and GE588 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

50% Coursework, 50% Exam

Preliminary reading

Indicative Reading:

Artmann, H.C.: Schauerromane. Piper, 1997.

Grass, G.: Der Butt. Fischer tb, 1979 (excerpts)

Müller, H.: Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jäger. Fischer tb, 1992 (excerpts)

Setz, C.: Indigo. Suhrkamp, 2012 (excerpts)

Süskind, P.: Das Parfum. Diogenes, 1985 (excerpts)

Selected poems by Durs Grünbein, Raoul Schrott and Friederike Mayröcker

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will have:

• (11.1) acquired detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of core topics in postmodernist German literature, e.g. pastiche, irony and the deconstruction of textual coherence, and these topics' relation to a socio-political context
• (11.2) demonstrated competence in applying this understanding within new and differing contexts (e.g. to see formal innovation in relation to a defined historical context)
• (11.3) the ability to analyse key texts (both primary and secondary) critically and to assess different genres of postmodern writing
• (11.4) developed close reading and analytical skills, including the application of critical thinking to the study of literature

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