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Unit information: Drama and the German Stage: Spotlights on Theatrical Practice, 1800-2000 in 2018/19

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Unit name Drama and the German Stage: Spotlights on Theatrical Practice, 1800-2000
Unit code GERM30072
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Debbie Pinfold
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will be taught bu Dr Richard McClellend

In the popular imagination, drama exists as a fictional text that predetermines the action that takes place on the stage. In reality, drama is a highly complex genre and covers a broad range of practices, styles and modes of representation that respond to the specific context in which each text was written. Indeed, dramatic texts often encode a version of the real world in which the audience can recognise their own reality, which allows for the strengthening or undermining of societal norms and expectations. In this unit students will explore a series of German-language dramatic texts from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present day. These will be studied alongside contemporary dramaturgical writings in order to set each play text in an historical and theatrical context. Students will thus explore a number of interrelated issues, including: the development of German theatrical tradition, the role of drama within the theatre, dramatic representation (what is represented in the text and why), the legacy of previous theatrical epochs, the politicisation of the stage and the potential of a postdramatic theatre that exists ‘beyond’ drama as a means of encoding the world beyond the theatre.

Teaching will take place in weekly two-hour seminars dedicated to individual texts: Friedrich Schiller, Die Braut von Messina (1803); Gerhard Hauptmann, Die Weber (1892); Bertolt Brecht, Leben des Galilei (1956 ed.); Heiner Müller, Hamletmaschine (1977); Elfriede Jelinek, Ein Sportstück (1998). Students will be provided with a reader at the start of the teaching period containing the dramaturgical texts that will be studied alongside the individual plays.

The Unit Aims:

- To give students an awareness of the changing role of drama in German theatre - To debate how drama might enable individuals to interpret the world around them. - To develop and consolidate German language skills through the close reading of a range of literary and non-literary texts. - To develop skills relating to the interpretation of cultural texts. - To develop students’ own critical voices in relation to wider debates in German Studies.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge appropriate to level H of a significant cultural subject related to the German language.
  2. Respond critically to a wide range of materials that centre on the role of drama in German theatre.
  3. Evaluate and analyse relevant material from a large body of source materials, often in the German language, to a standard appropriate to level H.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to work independently.
  5. Demonstrate an aptitude for responding to questions by presenting their independent judgements in an academic style.

Teaching details

2 Weekly seminars, to consist of informal lectures, seminar presentations and discussions

Assessment Details

- 1,500-word essay (25%) Testing ILOs 1-5 - 1,500-word response to a given extract, exploring the challenges it poses to being staged (25%) Testing ILOs 1-5 - 3,000-word essay (50%) Testing ILOs 1-5

Reading and References

Introductory Texts:

Martin Esslin, An Anatomy of Drama (London, 1978)

Hans-Thies Lehmann, Postdramatisches Theater (Frankfurt, 1999)

Michael Meisel, How Plays Work (Oxford, 2007)

Glendyr Sacks and Peter Thompson, The Cambridge Companion to Brecht (Cambridge, 2006)

Richard Schechner, ‘Drama, script, theatre, and performance’ in Performance Theory (Abingdon, 2003)