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The University of Southampton

HUMA3021 German-Jewish Writing Across the Twentieth Century

Module Overview

The turbulent history of Austrian and German Jews during the twentieth century was accompanied by the production of a diverse and influential body of German-language literature by Jewish authors. Prior to World War Two, Jews played a crucial role in the cultural life of both Germany and Austria, and many of the most important figures within German modernism came from a Jewish background. Later on, following the near-destruction of Jewish communities in Austria and Germany in the Holocaust, a revitalisation of German Jewish culture occurred from the 1980s onward. As a result of this, Jewish writers began once more to contribute significantly to the diversity and vibrancy of German-language literature. In this module, we will examine a range of German-Jewish works that were written at different points during the twentieth century. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship of the texts to their social and historical context, and to the role of literature in exploring interactions between the self and the 'other.' All written texts are available in English translation, and all films are available with English subtitles, allowing students with little or no prior knowledge of German language or German cultural studies to engage with the materials

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Some key twentieth-century texts by German-Jewish writers, and their relationship with the social and historical contexts within which they were written
  • Themes and issues identified by German-Jewish writers as relevant for their work
  • How literature relates to the expression of the self and signals a relationship to 'the other'
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Make connections between literature and wider social and historical issues
  • Apply theoretical concepts to inform the interpretation of a text
  • Articulate an informed response to questions of literary interpretation in both discussion and writing
  • Develop your own analysis of literary texts
  • Discuss in written and oral form theoretical approaches introduced in the module and apply them to texts studied
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand theoretical approaches and apply them to selected material
  • Further develop strategies of independent research and learning
  • Carry out close analysis of cultural artefacts and reflect on the relationship between cultural context and the content and form of the works studied
  • Organize relevant material in written and oral discussion in order to communicate clearly and effectively
  • Carry out library research, construct a bibliography and produce accurate and consistent referencing in your work
  • Participate in and lead group discussion


Jewish migration and assimilation in the early twentieth century Cultural modernism The legacy of the Holocaust in Austria and Germany The concept of 'post-memory' The theory of a 'negative symbiosis' between Germans and Jews following the Holocaust Literature as a means of exploring the relationship between the self and the 'other' Literature as a vehicle for social and political criticism Discussion of a range of texts and films, which may include 'Lieutenant Gustl' by Arthur Schnitzler, 'The Emperor's Tomb' by Joseph Roth, 'A Love Made out of Nothing' and 'Zohara's Journey' by Barbara Honigmann, and 'Return to Vienna' and 'The Paper Bridge' by Ruth Beckermann

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Lectures -Seminar discussions -Student- led discussions Learning methods include: -Close reading and analysis of texts and films -Group discussions -Independent reading and study - Constructing arguments for presentation orally and in written work

Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Dagmar D. G. Lorenz (editor)  (1994). Insiders and Outsiders: Jewish and Centile Culture in Germany and Austria. 

Steven Beller (1989). Vienna and the Jews, 1867-1938. 

Pol O Dochartaigh (2015). Germans and Jews since the Holocaust. 

Laurel Cohen-Pfister (2006). Victims and Perpetrators, 1933-1945: (Re)presenting the Past in Post-Unification Culture. 

Andrea Reiter (2013). Contemporary Jewish Writing: Austria after Waldheim. 

Klaus L. Berghahn (ed.) (1996). The German-Jewish Dialogue Reconsidered: A Symposium in Honour of George L. Mosse. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Critical review 40%
Essay 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Students will have to obtain copies of three to four novels

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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