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Unit information: Inventing Austria in 2021/22

Unit name Inventing Austria
Unit code GERM20051
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Havinga
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of German
Faculty Faculty of Arts


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.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. GERM20051).