Order and Madness: Classical German Literature - GRMN5850

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Ian Cooper checkmark-circle


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.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

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

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

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)
F. 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 close reading and analytical skills, including the application of critical thinking to the study of German literature.
Demonstrate confident and efficient close reading and analytical skills, including the application of critical thinking to the study of literature;
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.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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