Show/hide main menu

Level 5

5AAGB503 Society and Popular Culture in Germany

Credit value: 15 credits
Module tutor: Dr Alex Clarkson
Assessment: One 4000 word essay (100%)
Teaching pattern: Two hours per week

Reassessment: Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt

This module is taught in English, using English-language sources and translations; no prior knowledge of German is required.

Previous module name: Society, Politics & Popular Culture in Germany

Module description

Throughout the last century, Germany has experienced an extraordinary transformation of the role of popular culture, technology and the media in politics as well as people’s day to day lives. This Level 5 course will therefore examine the role of media and popular culture in German society after 1870 with a particular focus on the emergence of industries based on mass media and mass entertainment. By contextualising the study of popular culture within a historical framework, this course will also investigate how German identity is ‘read’, what it means to be or to be seen to be ‘German’, and how popular culture plays a role in shaping national identity. While the first two classes will help the students to develop their awareness of the theoretical framework of popular culture, the rest of the course will explore such topics as the rise of German language cinema and music industries, the professionalisation of sport, the influence of other nations on developments in Germany as well as the ways in which popular culture has been instrumentalised by different ideological movements.

Thus the classes dealing with the Wilhelmine, Weimar and National Socialist periods will explore how interaction between popular culture and politics reflected and affected attitudes toward technology, gender relations, domestic relations and sexuality. The later classes will go on to examine how Cold Ward division and growing ethnic diversity after 1945 transformed the structures and genres of popular culture. This course will look also look at that transition through key cultural artefacts from post-war Germany. The films, television programmes, and playlists used in this course will help students to better understand the historical background of contemporary German popular culture. They will also suggest new ways of thinking about Germany in the past – and the present.

Core texts 

  • Thomas Hecken, Theorien der Populärkultur, Bielefeld, Transcript, 2001
  • Dick Hebdidge, Subculture: The Meaning of Style, London, Routledge, 1979.
  • Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, Cambridge Mass., O’Reilly, 2001.
  • Detlev Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1989.
  • Hanna Schissler (ed.), The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001.

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454