Youth and Age: Generations in German Fiction and Film (MLG2003)

StaffProfessor Chloe Paver - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

‘Youth and Age’ gives you an opportunity to explore questions of German national identity through a single frame, the concept of ‘generation’. While our birth date is a matter of biological fact, how a generation is constructed or interpreted is socially and culturally relative. In Germany, a person’s date of birth can mean the difference between having experienced war or peace, dictatorship or freedom, and rebellion or conformity; it also determines whether they experienced these historical events as a child, adolescent, adult, or old person. Accordingly, generations have been the focus of much academic debate and cultural exploration in Germany. While real conflicts between generations have been lived out in German society, German writers and film-makers have also mobilized such conflicts to explore ideas of being German. Immigration into Germany has added an extra dimension, as the experiences of the migrant generation differ from those of the settled generations that follow. In all cases, the family – as the place where values are passed from old to young – plays a central role.

By introducing you to recent research on generations and to a range of fictional works that engage with family and social generations, the module aims to equip you to use ‘generation’ as an analytical tool, in the first instance in order to understand German culture more fully, but potentially as a way of understanding other societies, eras, or genres. Given the prominence of ‘generation’ as an explanatory category in today’s media and politics (for instance in the constructed opposition between baby boomers and millennials), you will finish the module better equipped to engage in contemporary debate.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a sound understanding of the concept of the ‘generation’ and its relevance to modern Germany
  • 2. Demonstrate an ability to analyse German fiction and film in terms of intergenerational encounters and conflicts, relating these to other factors such as ethnicity and gender

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. With some guidance from the course tutor, evaluate and apply a range of critical approaches to the material covered
  • 4. Mount a detailed argument in the appropriate register of English, mustering a range of textual or other evidence in its support

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written argument
  • 6. Undertake defined learning activities with a measure of autonomy, asking for guidance where necessary.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction: Concepts of Generation
  • Germany’s ‘pasts’ as social / familial. Key text: Deutschland, bleiche Mutter / Germany, Pale Mother (dir. by Helma Sanders-Brahms, 1980)
  • Family legacies of suffering. Key text: Hans-Ulrich Treichel, Der Verlorene / Lost (1998)
  • The end of communism. Monika Maron, Pawels Briefe / Pavel’s Letters (1999)
  • Migrant generations. Key text: Fatih Akin, Auf der anderen Seite / The Edge of Heaven (2007))
  • After the end of witnessing. Key text: Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter / Generation War (dir. by Philipp Kadelbach, 2013)

Please Note: In several of the texts / films, the rape of women by Allied soldiers at the end of the Second World War plays a role in the plot. None of the scenes of rape is physically graphic. Discussion of the issue in class is at a general level, focusing on how the authors/filmmakers interpret this event. The module leader is happy to provide further information on request. 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching151-hour classes, involving lectures, structured discussions, and student-led seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Conclusion / essay discussions
Guided Independent Study134Private Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short essay500 words1-6Written (and oral in office hours by arrangement)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1002500 words1-6Written (and oral in office hours by arrangement)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Set texts:

  • Deutschland, bleiche Mutter/ Germany, Pale Mother (dir. by Helma Sanders-Brahms, 1980)
  • Hans-Ulrich Treichel, Der Verlorene / Lost (1998)
  • Monika Maron, Pawels Briefe / Pavel’s Letters (1999)
  • Auf der anderen Seite / The Edge of Heaven (dir. by Fatih Akin, 2007)
  • Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter / Generation War (2013)
  • The tutor will also supply via ELE short extracts (in German and in English translation) of other texts/films that explore generation, such as: Max Frisch, Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän / Man in the Holocene (1979), F. C. Delius, Die Birnen von Ribbeck / The Pears of Ribbeck (1991), Christian Kracht, Faserland (1995) and Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei / The Edukators (dir. by Hans Weingartner, 2004).

Some research literature:

  • Bebnowski, David, Generation und Geltung: von den „45ern“ zur „Generation Praktikum“ – übersehene und etablierte Generationen im Vergleich (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2012)
  • Berghahn, Daniela, Far-Flung Families in Film: The Diasporic Family in Contemporary European Cinema  
  • Cohen-Pfister, Laurel, and Susanne Vees-Gulani (eds), Generational Shifts in Contemporary German Culture (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010)
  • Fulbrook, Mary, Dissonant Lives: Generations and Violence through the German Dictatorships (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • Schaumann, Caroline, Memory Matters: Generational Responses to Germany’s Nazi Past in Recent Women’s Literature (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Germany, generations, immigration, holocaust, Nazi era, GDR, family