Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
GE20130 or GE22020 or ability to read and speak German

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 hours (weeks 1-10)
Seminars / Tutorials 10 hours (includes student presentations) (weeks 1-10)
Workload Breakdown Lecture and seminar attendance = 20 hours; - Lecture and seminar preparation (research and reading) = 120 hours; - Essay research and writing = 40 hours; - Presentation preparation = 20 hours


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 × 2,000-word essay  30%
Semester Assessment Student presentations  20%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   written examination  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. participate in debates concerning the study of life writing in German
2. show understanding of the historical background of the region
3. show understanding of German-language literature and culture from the 1910s to 2000
4. demonstrate skills in comparative analysis and to show familiarity with historical analysis and literary criticism
5. engage critically with a variety of scholarly material including monographs and specialised articles
6. present their findings in a logical, organised and scholarly fashion both orally - through debates and presentations - and in written form - through essays.


This course aims to familiarise students with questions of German, Austrian and European history and culture and its representation within German-language life writing between 1914 and the present day. It will give students a broad understanding of the most important aspects of the genre of life writing in its literary, historical, socio-economic and political context. It will explore the themes of memory, the public and private sphere, representing the past, the tension between literature and history and the changing nature of national identity. It will also give students a basic understanding of literary analysis and an understanding of genre.

Brief description

The course studies life writing in German in the 20th and 21st century and examines issues of genre, authenticity, gender, authorships and ethics among others.


This module is structured around the following topics:
Week 1 - The Genre of Autobiography and Life Writing in German (lecture and seminar)
Week 2 - Autobiographical Writing as History and Literature Sebastian Haffner, Geschichte eines Deutschen, 1914-1933. (lecture and seminar)
Week 3 - The Public and the Private in Autobiographical Writing Sebastian Haffner, Geschichte eines Deutschen, 1914-1933. (lecture and seminar)
Week 4 - Autobiography and Authenticity Ruth Klüger, weiter leben (lecture and seminar)
Week 5 - Autobiography and Gender Ruth Klüger, weiter leben (lecture and seminar)
Week 6 - Autobiography and the Concept of Generation Jana Hensel, Zonenkinder. (lecture and seminar)
Week 7 - Autobiography and Popular Culture Jana Hensel, Zonenkinder. (lecture and seminar)
Week 8 - Autobiography and Authorship Günter Grass, Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (lecture and seminar)
Week 9 - Autobiography and Ethics Günter Grass, Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (lecture and seminar)
Week 10 - Summary (lecture and seminar)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Students will develop oral communication in seminars and student presentations; written communication will be developed in assessments in English.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be able to assess their own progress week by week through their increased understanding of the issues raised and the skills developed.
Information Technology Students will use on-line journals and source collections; delivery of course materials and information via e-learning system.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will acquire transferable skills such as the ability to create and deliver presentations; in-depth acquaintance with autobiography as an academic subject.
Problem solving Students will select appropriate reading material; developing evaluative analysis and critical skills and formulating a detailed argument.
Research skills Students will analyse autobiographies in their political/historical contexts and synthesize information in an evaluative argument.
Subject Specific Skills Students will acquire German vocabulary; slang expressions; a variety of German language from different periods of history.
Team work Students will participate in debates and group presentations in seminars.

Reading List

General Text
A full bibliography within a dossier for the course will be supplied at the beginning of the module. Primo search
Essential Reading
Günter Grass (2006) Beim Häuten der Zwiebel Göttingen: Steidl Primo search Jana Hensel (2002) Zonenkinder Reinbek: Rowohlt Primo search Ruth Klüger (1992) weiter leben Göttingen: Wallstein Primo search Sebastian Haffner (2000) Geschichte eines Deutschen, 1914-1933 Stuttgart: DVA Primo search
Recommended Text
Anderson, Linda (2001) Autobiography London: Routledge Primo search Braun, Rebecca (2008) ‘“Mich in Variationen erzählen”: Günter Grass and the Ethics of Autobiography’ 103 MLR Primo search Finnan, Carmel (2000) ‘Autobiography, Memory and the Shoah: German-Jewish Identity in Autobiographical Writings by Ruth Klüger, Cordelia Edvardson and Laura Waco’ German Monitor 53 Primo search Fuchs, Anke (2007) ‘ “Ehrlich Du lügst wie gedruckt”: Günter Grass’s Autobiographical Confessions and the Changing Territory of German Memory Culture’ German Life and Letters, 60 Primo search Grass, Günter (1997) ‘Schreiben nach Ausschwitz’ in Günter Grass, Werksausgabe, Volker Neuhaus et al (eds) 16 vols Göttingen: Steidl Primo search Hammel, Andrea (2001) ‘Gender, Individualism and Dialogue: Jakov Lind’s Counting My Steps and Ruth Klüger’s weiter leben’, in Writing after Hitler: The Work of Jakov Lind, ed. Andrea Hammel, Silke Hassler and Edward Timms Cardiff: University of Wales Press Primo search Hammel, Andrea (2004) ‘The Destabilisations of Personal Histories: Rewriting and Translating Autobiographical Texts by German-Jewish Survivors’ Vol.1 No.3 Comparative Critical Studies Primo search Illies, Florian (2001) Generation Golf. Eine Inspektion Frankfurt/Main: Fischer Primo search Kraushaar, Tom (ed) (2003) Die Zonenkinder und wir Reinbek: Rowohlt Primo search Kuhiwczak, Piotr (2007) The Grammar of Survival. How do we read Hlocaust Testimonies?’, in Salama-Carr, Myriam (ed), Translating and Interpreting Conflict Amsterdam: Rodopi Primo search Lejeune, Phillippe (1989) On Autobiography Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press Primo search Machtans, Karolin (2009) Zwischen Wissenschaft und autobiographischem Projekt: Saul Friedländer und Ruth Klüger Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag Primo search Mcglothlin, Erin (2004) ‘Autobiographical Re-vision: Ruth Klüger’s weiter leben and Still Alive’ Gegenwartsliteratur 3 Primo search Reiter, Andrea (2002) ‘“Ich wollte, es wäre ein Roman.” Ruth Klüger’s Feminist Survival Report’ Forum for Modern Language Studies 38 Primo search Schaumann, Caroline (2004) 'From weiter leben (1992) to Still Alive (2001): Ruth Klüger’s Cultural Translation of her “German book” for an American Audience’ German Quarterly 77 [available on-line] Primo search Wilkormirski, Binjamin (1997) Fragments: Memories of a Childhood, 1939-1948 London: Picador Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6