Wien-Berlin: Tales of Two Cities - GE589

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


This module focuses on the recent history of Vienna and Berlin, the cultural capitals of the German-speaking world. Many of the key events and movements that influenced Europe over the past century are intimately linked to these two cities, from the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, the development of extremist left- and right-wing parties in the interwar period to the division and re-uniting of Europe as embodied by the Berlin Wall. Changes and continuities in the political, social and physical topography of Vienna and Berlin will be traced by studying representations of both cities in a range of texts and films from the early twentieth to the early twenty-first century. Alongside feature films and prose genres such as short stories and reportage, the module will also consider theoretical texts on the city and the contribution of urban life to modern German-language culture. Central themes are the interplay of individual and collective, urban anonymity and liberation versus alienation and uniformity, multiculturalism and migration.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20


Available under GE589 (Level 5) or GE590 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

• Essay (2,000 words) – 40%
• Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
• Examination (2 hours) – 40%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Aichinger, I, (1948), Die größere Hoffnung (extracts)
Albert, B, (1999), Nordrand
Bachmann, B, (1961), 'Unter Mördern und Irren'
Döblin, A, (1929), Berlin Alexanderplatz (extracts)
Özdamar, E.S, (2001), Der Hof im Spiegel
Roth, J, (1919/1920), Symptome der Zeit newspaper articles from 1919/20, taken from Joseph Roth, Werke I: Das journalistische Werk 1915-1923 (ed. Klaus Westermann, Cologne 1989)
Wenders, W, (1987) Himmel über Berlin

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Demonstrate a detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of the recent cultural and political history of two major German-speaking cities, Vienna and Berlin;
8.2 Demonstrate competence in applying this knowledge within new and differing contexts (e.g. as regards the city as a lieu de mémoire and the relationship between representations of the city to current debates in German-speaking countries about multiculturalism, migration and national identity);
8.3 Demonstrate detailed knowledge of selected twentieth-century prose works and films that represent the city and city life in Vienna and Berlin;
8.4 Demonstrate critical understanding of the ways in which urban development and theories of urbanity have contributed to modern German culture, in particular to literature and film;
8.5 Demonstrate close reading and analytical skills, including the application of critical thinking to the study of literature and film.


  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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