German Expressionism 1910-1925 - GE592

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5) PROF B Hutchinson







This module explores one of the major contributions of Germanic culture to modernism. Straddling the period immediately before, during, and after the First World War, Expressionism emerged as a reaction against the mechanising forces of modern industrial society, seeking nothing less than a 'renewal of mankind'. With compelling intensity, the Expressionists developed an immediately recognisable style that found an audience across Europe. This module looks at works from a range of genres: from poetry to drama, from prose (both fiction and manifestos) to painting, Expressionism was a key strand of international modernism across the Arts, embracing figures as diverse as Georg Kaiser, Kurt Pinthus, Else Lasker-Schüler, Franz Kafka, and Oskar Kokoschka. A century later, it remains one of the most important – and most idiosyncratically Germanic – of all modern artistic movements.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20


Available under GE591 (Level 5) or GE592 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

• Essay 1 (2,000 words) – 40%
• Essay 2 (3,000 words) – 60%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading:
Kafka, F., Short stories including ‚Die Verwandlung', ‚Das Urteil', ‚Ein Landarzt' (any edition)
Kaiser, G. Die Bürger von Calais (any edition)
Toller, E. Masse-Mensch (Reclam: Stuttgart, 2010)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of Expressionism and its major characteristics as they are manifested across literature and the visual arts;
- Demonstrate knowledge of a number of representative Expressionist texts in close detail, as well as some of the main manifestos and critical statements regarding Expressionism;
- Demonstrate cogent understanding of the cultural, aesthetic, national, and historical contexts of these works;
- Exhibit the analytical skills required to assess, evaluate and explain the distinctive literary features of Expressionism;
- Analyse questions pertaining to form, style and structure explored by the relevant texts;
- Evaluate how the salient characteristics of Expressionism vary – whilst exhibiting 'family resemblances' – across the genres of literature and painting.

In addition, on successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:
- Carry out additional research and demonstrate critical thinking in both written assessments and seminar topics that shows an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge;
- Demonstrate the ability to undertake independent learning and to demonstrate this through the sophisticated use of refereed research in leading journals and other original materials;
- Demonstrate comprehensive critical and analytical skills in their approach to key texts.

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