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BA Film Studies and German

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Weimar Culture? Art, Film and Politics in Germany, 1918-33

Unit code GERM20262
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by German Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


In his classic study of Weimar Culture (1969), Peter Gay makes a startling assertion: ‘The Republic created little; it liberated what was already there’. This course unit assesses if this was the case by examining the major currents in German art, film, music, architecture and photography between the November Revolutions and the Nazi ‘seizure of power’, when political and social instability was accompanied by great artistic and intellectual creativity. It reveals a complex and fascinating picture of an era in which Germany was briefly the laboratory of the modern world.



·         To develop knowledge and understanding of German history, particularly of the Weimar Republic

·         To develop critical thinking and higher order conceptual reasoning and analytical skills

·         To develop advanced skills of written and verbal communication

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit, students will have developed:

·         knowledge and understanding of German history (see below)

·         a range of intellectual skills (see below)

·         a range of practical skills (see below)

·         a range of transferable skills (see below)

·         a range of employability skills (see below)


      1.   Expressionism and the Great War

2.   Dada

3.   Artists and the November Revolutions

4.   Expressionism in Architecture

5.   Expressionism in Film

6.   The Bauhaus in Weimar

7.   The Bauhaus in Dessau

8.   Neue Sachlichkeit in painting

9.   Neue Sachlichkeit in film

10. Neue Sachlichkeit in photography

11. Neue Sachlichkeit in music

12. Neue Sachlichkeit in architecture

13. Urbanism and Anti-Urbanism

14. Left-wing intellectuals

     15. Right-wing intellectuals

16. Cultural and Political Polarisation

Teaching and learning methods

This course unit consists of 22 interactive seminars. Some of these will be student-led, and will also include film screenings.

Knowledge and understanding

On successful completion of this course unit, students will have a knowledge and understanding of:

·         the principal movements and figures in German art, film, music, architecture and photography between 1918 and 1933

·         the key themes and forces that shaped German society in the Weimar era

·         basic historical methods

Intellectual skills

·         Critical thinking – capacity to abstract, analyse and make critical judgements

·         Synthesis and analysis of data and information

·         Critical reflection and evaluation

·         Expression – able to make a reasoned argument for a particular point of view

·         Decision-Making – able to draw reasoned conclusions 

Practical skills

·         Using library, electronic and online resources

·         Essay writing and exam technique

Transferable skills and personal qualities

·         Information Retrieval – ability independently to gather, sift, synthesise and organise material from various sources           (including library, electronic and online resources), and to critically evaluate its significance

·         Presentation – present information, ideas and arguments, orally and in writing, with due regard to the target audience

·         Literacy – the capacity both to make written presentations using appropriate language for a target population and to collect and integrate evidence to formulate and test a hypothesis

·         Time Management – ability to schedule tasks in order of importance and work to deadlines

·         Improving own Learning – ability to improve one's own learning through planning, monitoring, critical reflection, evaluate and adapt strategies for one's learning

Employability skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to: ¿ manage time and work to deadlines ¿ participate constructively in group activities ¿ assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others ¿ present information, ideas and arguments, orally and in writing, with due regard to the target audience ¿ demonstrate powers of analysis

Assessment methods

Assessment task


Weighting within unit





2 hours





Group presentation as part of a student-led seminar

20 min presentation, within a 50 minute seminar






2 hours


Feedback methods

  • Comments made during class discussion regarding the relevance and coherence of student responses/participation in discussion
  • Comments on seminar presentation
  • Advice on revision and exam preparation given in Week 11
  • Post-exam feedback if required


Recommended reading

Set texts:                        Weitz, Eric, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton U.P., 2007)


Recommended texts: Bessel, Richard, Weimar Germany (London: Arnold, 2003); Bingham, John, Weimar Cities: The Challenge of Urban Modernity in Germany, 1919-1933 (London: Routledge, 2007); Bookbinder, Paul, Weimar Germany: The Republic of the Reasonable (Manchester: M.U.P., 1997); Burns, Rob (ed.), German Cultural Studies. An Introduction (Oxford: O.U.P, 1995); Bullivant, Keith (ed.), Culture and Society in the Weimar Republic (Manchester: M.U.P, 1977); Durst, David, Weimar Modernism: Philosophy, Politics and Culture in Germany 1918-1933 (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2004); Gay, Peter, Weimar Culture. The Outsider as Insider (London: Penguin, 1969); Kolinsky, Eva & van der Will, Wilfried (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Modern German Culture (Cambridge: C.U.P, 1998); Lacqueur, Walter, Weimar: A Cultural History 1918-33 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974); McElligott, Anthony (ed.), Rethinking the Weimar Republic: Authority and Authoritarianism, 1916-1936 (London: Arnold, 2005); Peukert, Detlev, The Weimar Republic (London: Penguin, 1991); Willett, John, The New Sobriety. Art and Politics in the Weimar Period (London: Thames & Hudson, 1978)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Matthew Jefferies Unit coordinator

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