BA French and German

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
New German Identities: Turkish-German Culture

Course unit fact file
Unit code GERM30632
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by German Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


When the Federal Republic of Germany signed a labour contract with the Turkish Republic in 1961, a process was set in motion which began with short-term migrant labour and ended with the establishment of the largest minority population in Germany, making Berlin one of the largest Turkish cities in the world. This course explores the cultural consequences of the labour migration, which has been called ‘The Turkish Turn’ in contemporary German literature and film. It focuses exclusively on post-1990 texts, as a turning point in the emergence of minority German cultures. The course will begin with the history of labour migration, proceed to discussion of recent reforms to Germany’s citizenship legislation, and introduce a variety of conceptual approaches to multiculturalism. It also gives a brief introduction to Turkish history, in particular the 20th-century history of the Turkish Republic. In texts by Renan Demirkan, Zafer ¿enocak, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimo¿lu, and films by Kutlu¿ Ataman and Fatih Akin it will then explore the rich variety of styles and themes which these authors and filmmakers contribute to the contemporary German cultural landscape.



None, but students should have the equivalent of at least B2 proficency in German on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. 


  • To expand students’ knowledge of German culture to include writers and filmmakers of Turkish origin
  • to deepen awareness of its historical and cultural contexts, both Turkish and German
  • to explore ways of appreciating Turkish German culture in terms other than embellishment, integration, or assimilation

Learning outcomes



Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Analyse a range of texts and films by authors/directors of Turkish origin;
  • Demonstrate a good level of contextual background knowledge;
  • Demonstrate a complex understanding of contemporary German identities


Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of identity, in its cultural, linguistic, national, and gendered aspects;
  • Demonstrate skills of literary and film analysis


Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Through reading, seminar discussion, presentations, and the writing of an essay, demonstrate the skills of information-gathering, interpretation, and the construction of a lucid argument, both visually and in writing.

 Presentation skills using recorded narration and powerpoint

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Intercultural awareness
  • Critical understanding of multiculturalism
  • Critical distance from one’s own culture

Employability skills

¿ language skills ¿ intercultural awareness ¿ critical distance from one¿s own culture ¿ professional presentation skills

Assessment methods

Presentation 30%
Essay 70%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral and written feedback on Poster

Formative and summative

Additional one-to-one feedback and help with presentation planning (during consultation hours or by appointment). Comments on an essay plan.


Written feedback on essay



Recommended reading

Set Texts:

  1. Renan Demirkan, Schwarzer Tee mit drei Stück Zucker
  2. (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1991)
  3. Zafer ¿enocak, Atlas eines tropischen Deutschland (Berlin: Babel Verlag, 1993) and other  essays (pdfs provided)
  4. Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Mutterzunge (Berlin: Rotbuch,1990) (pdf provided)
  5. Feridun Zaimo¿lu, Kanak Sprak (Hamburg: Rotbuch, 1995)



  1. Kutlu¿ Ataman, Lola und Bilidikid (Germany 1999)
  2. Fatih Akin, Gegen die Wand (Germany 2004)


Further Reading:

  1. Leslie A. Adelson, The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2005)
  2. Tom Cheesman, ‘Akçam – Zaimo¿lu – “Kanak Attak”: Turkish Lives and Letters in German’, German Life and Letters, 55.2 (2002), 180-195
  3. Tom Cheesman, Novels of Turkish German Settlement: Cosmopolite Fictions (Rochester NY: Camden House, 2007)
  4. Eva Kolinsky, Deutsch und türkisch leben. Bild und Selbstbild der türkischen Minderheit in Deutschland (Berne: Peter Lang, 2000)
  5. B. Venkat Mani, Cosmopolitical Claims: Turkish German Literatures from Nadolny to Pamuk (Iowa: Iowa University Press, 2007)
  6. Twist, Joseph, Mystical Islam and Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary German Literature (Rochester: Camden House, 2018)
  7. Yasemin Yildiz, Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition (New York:  Fordham University Press, 2012)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Supervised time in studio/wksp 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christina Littler Unit coordinator

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