Life after Modernism? An introduction to Contemporary Literature in Germany - GRMN5880

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


To understand contemporary German-language literature and culture of the twenty-first century, we have to critically engage with and reflect on the social and historical context of aesthetic developments in the world of the distant and more recent past. With concepts of national and cultural identity changing fast in Europe and in the global context, political and social challenges are made visible in literary paradigm shifts and are reflected in a reconfiguring German literary field.

In 2000, the notion of 'broken German' as a representation of literary language was still inconceivable. However, with the surge of migrant literature in the first two decade of the 21st century it would become a controversial and ground-breaking new aesthetic category when a novel of the same name was entered into the competition for one of the most prestigious literary awards in German language, the 'Ingeborg Bachmann Preis'. The use of language as a tool of power is central to our understanding of our societies and their demographic make-up. Literature and the Arts have always mirrored social, political and historical developments, and German-language literary history after the 1960s is a fascinating and representative example for prismatic responses to cultural reality. Theoretical concepts like 'postmodernism' help us to contextualise these responses in order to ultimately explain the human condition.

This module introduces a range of contemporary texts and other works of art (including song and film) 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", Frederic Jameson’s "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" 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 with reference to the global dimension of contemporary writing.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Essay (3,000 words) – 60%
Take-Home Assignment (1,500 words) – 20%
Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Any edition of the following:
Artmann, H.C. (1997). Schauerromane. Munich: Piper
Flašar, M.M. (2012). Ich nannte ihn Krawatte. Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach
Gardi, T. (2016). Broken German. Graz: Droschl
Setz, C. (2012). Indigo. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp (excerpts)
Süskind, P. (1985). Das Parfum. Zurich: Diogenes (excerpts)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to

Demonstrate a critical understanding of, and be able to coherently articular a position on core parameters in German-language literature between 1965 and the present, e.g. the effect of the culture industry and entertainment on aesthetic production, the deconstruction of textual coherence, and these topics' relation to a socio-political context;
Demonstrate confident and cogent understanding of formal innovation in relation to a defined historical context by introducing literary theoretical concepts to the discussion;
Demonstrate the ability to analyse key texts (both primary and secondary) critically and to assess different genres of contemporary writing in German and to place and discuss them meaningfully in the cultural context;
Demonstrate close reading and analytical skills, and reflect critically on the form and nature of literary texts with reference to the theoretical concepts discussed in class;
Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between major contemporary German and Austrian authors and cultural-historical as well as social-historical conditions and to articular their own ideas about this relationship.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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