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Unit information: Franz Kafka in 2016/17

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Unit name Franz Kafka
Unit code GERM22033
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Debbie Pinfold
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Kafka referred to his writing as the 'Darstellung meines traumhaften innern Lebens', but for all their very specific personal roots his works have universal appeal and relevance. This unit will proceed by means of close readings of a selection of Kafka's shorter fiction, focusing in particular on texts which deal with two of his main themes, guilt and punishment and the plight of the artist. Through the shorter fiction students will be introduced to a range of critical approaches to Kafka's work as well as being encouraged to develop their personal response to his writing. This will lay the foundations for the second half of the course, which will focus on Kafka's fullest exploration of the theme of guilt and punishment, Der Proceß. The course will be taught mainly through seminar discussions; students will also be expected to deliver short presentations based on their own reading.

Intended learning outcomes

(Numbers in brackets refer to Programme ILOs for BA German.) By the end of the unit, successful students will have

  • Become familiar with a representative selection of Kafka’s texts and be able to analyse them on the basis of their own close reading and class discussion (A3, A5)
  • Become familiar with a range of critical approaches to Kafka’s works and be able to use these to support their own arguments (A5, B1, B2, B3, B4, B7)
  • Developed their capacity for independent research (A10, C1, C7)
  • Developed their ability to present their findings in structured written form, including under time pressure (B3, B7, C2, C8, C9, C10)

Teaching details

2 weekly seminars including stuident presentations.

This unit will be taught mainly through seminar discussions based on students’ close reading of the set texts. This close reading will be supported by regular worksheets to be completed in preparation for classes. Students will also be expected to deliver short oral presentations based on their own reading and research.

Assessment Details

1 assessed essay of 2000 words (50% of unit mark) (A3, A5, A10, B1, B2, B3, B4, B7, C1, C2, C7, C8, C10)

1 2-hour written examination, consisting of an essay and a commentary on the set text (50% of unit mark) (A3, A5, A10, B1, B2, B3, B4, B7, C1, C2, C7, C8, C9)

Reading and References

  • Franz Kafka, Die Erzählungen und andere ausgewählte Prosa (FTV 13270)
  • Franz Kafka, Der Proceß (FTV 12443)
  • Michael Müller (ed.), Interpretationen. Franz Kafka, Romane und Erzählungen (Reclam 8811)