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Unit information: Inventing Austria in 2020/21

Unit name Inventing Austria
Unit code GERM20051
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Havinga
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

In this unit we will explore the complex and often controversial emergence of Austrian identities.

In the early 21st century, Austria has a distinct identity, yet the modern state was established as recently as 1918, and originally dismissed as ‘the leftovers’ after the collapse of empires and the radical reshaping of Europe’s borders. Most Austrians themselves would initially have preferred German or Swiss identities. A clearer sense of what it meant to be Austrian only emerged after the turbulent interwar period and the experience of Anschluss with Germany.

We will take a multidisciplinary approach to the contested development of Austrian identities since 1918, using historical tools, discussing examples from literature and film, and exploring the contribution of Austria’s distinct linguistic landscape to identity formation. We will particularly concentrate on the interplay between history, culture and language.

The principal aims of the unit are to:

  • discuss key themes and issues in Austrian studies;
  • explore the concept and process of national identity formation in a particular case study;
  • examine the interplay between different disciplinary approaches to a focused area of academic interest;
  • enable students to develop and demonstrate expertise in a structured format.

The unit will be jointly taught, typically by three members of the German Department staff. The texts and themes studied will vary from year to year and will take account also of both staff and student interests.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the principal characteristics of Austria’s national identity and its historical underpinnings;

2. analyse a variety of text types and evaluate the connections between them;

3. explain complex conclusions in ways that are accessible to a non-specialist audience;

4. select and evaluate an individual research topic;

5. develop effective skills of collaboration when working on a group project.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

1 x 1500-word individual brief as part of the editorial planning for the podcast (50%). Testing ILOs 1-4.

1 x 20-minute group podcast (50%). Testing ILOs 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Reading and References

Steven Beller, A concise history of Austria (2006)

Austrian Studies, ed. Beniston/Vilain, vol. 11: Hitler's First Victim?

Michael Clyne. 1995. ‘Austria – caught between linguistic cringe and linguistic imperialism.’ In: Michael Clyne, The German language in a changing Europe. Cambridge: CUP, 31–41.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Der SchwierigeKarl Kraus, “Die letzten Tage der Menschheit” (extracts)Sissi, dir. Ernst Marischka

Further texts will be specified in the unit documentation for each year.

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