Module LXG-3036:
Performing Germany

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Sarah Pogoda

Overall aims and purpose

Based on theories of performance studies and critical theory on "staging" and "performing" (E. Fichte-Lichte, A. Boal, E. Goffman), this module will provide an informed panorama of multiple "stages" for a Germany performed and performing. Through case studies students will apply understanding of theoretical concepts in order to gain analytical skills and identify the mutual process of performing and constructing German national identity. We shall move on a time line that begins with the advent of the German nation in the 19th century and that ends in the 21st century. Furthermore, we will always try to connect the historical examples with strategies and practices of later periods and/or today. In doing so, the students will see how the last century seems to end with a promise of a (post-)national, global identity, in which we seemingly cannot speak of ideas such as German or European identity any more, a situation which also becomes visible in Berlin’s diverse contemporary art scene.

Course content

The seminar will be organized in the following blocks:

Block I: Theories of Representation and Performance/Performativity. Students will read excerpts from texts by Erika Fischer-Lichte and Judith Butler as an outline for the theoretical framework of the module. Students will identify differences between representation and performance and gain an understanding of how these ideas are linked to questions of (national) identity.

Block II: Performing a rising nation in the 19th century. With case studies (German associations and festivals – Schützenvereine, Turnvereine, for instance) students will identify main issues for the German nation-building process and the idea of a German public sphere in the 19th century and apply theoretical approaches from Block I.

Block III: Case study: Performing 19th century Germany in the 21st century. In this block students will apply knowledge and skills from Block I and Block II for a 21st century case study which has been re-imagined since 19th century (for instance, the annual Wagnerian Bayreuth festival). Students will identify the changing nature of the chosen event over the course of the centuries and its affect on German identity discourse.

Block IV: Case Study: German theater and the nation. In this block students explore German theater and its importance for German identity. Readings and lectures on historical background and excerpts of examples of German plays that deal with national issues (e.g. Kleist: “Hermannschlacht”) with main focus on artistic negotiating German identity in contemporary theater (e.g. Christoph Schlingensief "Deutschlandssuche 99", Yael Ronen: "Common Ground").

Block V: Popular culture and performing the German nation. In this block students will study contemporary performances of a German nation in popular culture (the Football World Championship in Germany 2006, for instance). Based on readings about changing attitudes towards patriotism and the German nation since 2000 students will discuss how popular mass performances contribute to political self-understanding.

In a final revision session students will demonstrate their understanding of theories of performance/performativity and national identity when transferring it to non-German examples – e.g. their own cultural background or from other languages of their degree.

Assessment Criteria

good

To achieve Grade B the assessment must:

  • demonstrate a strong understanding of the theoretical idea of performance, performativity and representation;
  • demonstrate a good knowledge of stages in the German national building process;
  • show in-depth background knowledge of the socio-historical and ideological background of the period;
  • show a strong ability to analyse and understand a variety of visual and textual media in context;
  • demonstrate a good ability to apply theoretical approaches to a case study;
  • include original interpretation;
  • contain logically and coherently presented arguments;
  • show clear communicative performance with a high standard of accuracy and adequateness;
  • be almost free of factual or typographical errors;

threshold

To achieve Grade D the assessment must:

  • demonstrate knowledge of some, if only limited, theoretical ideas in performance, performativity and representation;
  • show some, if only limited, knowledge of stages in the German national building process
  • show some, if only limited, background knowledge of the socio-historical and ideological background of the period;
  • show attempts to analyse and understand visual and textual media in context;
  • demonstrate attemps to apply theory to answer an essay question;
  • attempt to give evidence;
  • attempt to present arguments;
  • show communicative performance without excessive inaccuracy or inadequateness;
  • show an attempt to avoid a large number of factual or typographical errors.

excellent

To achieve Grade A the assessment must:

  • demonstrate an excellent understanding of the theoretical idea of performance, performativity and representation;
  • demonstrate a concise and in-depth knowledge of stages in the German national building process;
  • show extensive background knowledge of the socio-historical and ideological background of the period;
  • show an excellent ability to analyse and understand a variety of visual and textual media in context;
  • demonstrate an excellent ability to apply theoretical approaches to a case study;
  • demonstrate original interpretation;
  • contain logically presented and defended arguments;
  • show strong and clear communicative performance with an excellent standard of accuracy and adequateness;
  • be free of factual or typographical errors.

C- to C+

To achieve Grade C the assessment must:

  • demonstrate attempts to understanding the theoretical idea of performance, performativity and representation;
  • demonstrate knowledge of stages in the German national building process
  • show background knowledge of the socio-historical and ideological background of the period;
  • show an ability to analyse and understand visual and textual media in context;
  • show an ability to apply theoretical approaches to explain problems;
  • attempt an original interpretation;
  • contain coherent arguments;
  • show communicative performance with relatively little inaccuracy or inadequateness;
  • avoid a large number of factual or typographical errors;

Learning outcomes

  1. Analyse and critically engage with cultural performances of diverse medial character (theatre, festivals, newspapers, advertisement, music etc.).

  2. Identify stages of German nation building and present crucial historical performances of the nation.

  3. Present arguments in essays and written assignments, supported by cultural and historical evidence.

  4. Critically discuss interrelations between popular culture and ideology, with particular focus on identity politics.

  5. Understand the central concepts of performance/performativity and representation. Identify differences of concepts.

  6. Display mechanisms of nation building processes and linkages to performance/performativity of identity in a national context.

  7. Understand national identity as a result of social, political, cultural, historical and economic negotiations and understand the importance of public sphere.

  8. Transfer knowledge and understanding from the German context to other national contexts.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
WRITTEN PLAN Performance Instruction

Students will write instructions for a creative piece in which they outline a performance of national identity. This is a creative piece of work which needs to demonstrate that the students understood theories and practices of performing identity.

20
CLASS TEST In-Class-Test 20
ESSAY Essay (3000)

Students will be required to write an essay of 3,000 words on one of several prescribed topics. Students can also write the essay on a topic of their own choice (but only in agreement with tutor).

60

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Seminar

2 x 50 minute seminars per week, over the course of 11 weeks.

22
Private study

Students will conduct guided reading of texts and other media in preparation for classes, as well as independent research for all assignments.

178

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Engaging with, interpreting and critically evaluating short and longer contemporary texts (short stories, films, novels) in the target language (Benchmark statement 5. 8, and 5.9)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
  • The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
  • The ability to work creatively and flexibly both independently and/or as part of a team. (Benchmark statement 5.15).
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical understanding of key topics in the sphere of modern critical, cultural and translation theory, highlighting landmark figures and offering close readings of segments of their texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas and arguments in presentations, classroom discussions and debates. (Benchmark statement 5.14, 5.16)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply information from a variety of theoreticians to German case studies. (Benchmark statement 5.11)

Resources

Resource implications for students

Library resources are sufficient, students might need to purchase some texts (dramatic plays).

Reading list

• Abel, Lionel: Tragedy and Metatheatre. New York 2003 • Boal, Augusto: Theatre of the Oppressed. New York 1979 • Goffman, Ervin: The presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York 1959 • Fischer-Lichte, Erika: Berliner Theater im 20. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1998 • Fischer-Lichte, Erika: Inszenierung von Authentizität. Tübingen 2000 • Citron, Atay. Performance Studies in Motion: International Perspectives and Practices in the Twenty-first Century. 2014. Web. • MacGregor, Neil: Germany. Memories of a nation, Penguin 2016. • Fulbrook, Swales, Fulbrook, Mary, and Swales, Martin. Representing the German Nation : History and Identity in Twentieth-century Germany. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2000. Print. • Anderson, Benedict R. O'G. Imagined Communities : Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. London ; New York ;: Verso, 2006. Print. • Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1990. Print. Penguin Psychology. • Etienne François, Hagen Schulze (ed.): Deutsche Erinnerungsorte. vol. I-III, C. H. Beck Verlag, München 2001. • Skelton, Geoffrey. Wagner at Bayreuth Experiment and Tradition. New and Revised ed. London: White Lion, 1976. Print. • Forrest, Tara., and Anna Teresa. Scheer. Christoph Schlingensief : Art without Borders. Bristol, UK ; Chicago: Intellect, 2010. Print. • Kuhlke, Olaf. Representing German Identity in the New Berlin Republic : Body, Nation, and Place. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen, 2004. Print. Studies in German Thought and History ; v. 25. • Anderson, Jeffrey J., and Eric. Langenbacher. From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic : Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification. New York: Berghahn, 2010. Print. • Jones, Anwen. National Theatres in Context : France, Germany, England and Wales. Cardiff: U of Wales, 2007. Print. • Tomlinson, Young, Tomlinson, Alan, and Young, Christopher. German Football : History, Culture, Society. London ; New York: Routledge, 2006. Print. • Kramer, Daniel J. "Co-opting Classicism and Debating Cultural Identity on the German National Stage in Mannheim." Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 48.4 (2012): 440-58. Web. • McClatchie, S. (2008) ‘Performing Germany in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’, in Grey, T.S. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Wagner:. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 134–150.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: