Contemporary Popular Culture in Germany

Subject GERM30014 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2.5 hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: 2.5 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 8.5 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Usually 37.5 points of 2nd/3rd year subjects in German language.
Corequisites: none
Recommended Background Knowledge: none
Non Allowed Subjects: Students who have completed 126-487 Contemporary Popular Culture in Germany are not allowed to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Subject Overview:

What is popular culture, and what is its purpose? In postwar debates in Germany about popular culture, two main positions can be distinguished. There is the "apocalyptic" view of the Frankfurt School, claiming that popular culture is part of the superstructure of society and imposed by cultural industries to serve as an anaesthetic drug for the masses. An opposing view is offered by exponents of Cultural Studies like the Birmingham School: an 'integrated' view, seeing the origins of popular culture in the base of society, where it functions as the 'voice of the people' and a form of free expression. Students are introduced to the history and main topics of this debate in Germany. The legacy of the Frankfurt School will be discussed, as well as the German contribution to Cultural Studies. Key concepts of a theory of popular culture will be introduced and discussed (manipulation, ease of consumption, escapism, complicity with the audience, the role of popular culture in the culture industry, popular culture and 'Schund und Schmutz'). A close look will also be taken at the multiple relationships between popular culture, society and the media. Examples will be critically discussed. These include songs and videoclips by German pop/rock bands and literary works and pamphlets from Popliteratur. It will be shown how musicians and writers (de-)construct concepts like (Anti-)Americanism, Germanness, national pride/ nationalism and social health in their works.

Objectives: .

A 1000 word class paper 30% (due during the semester), and an essay of 3000 words.

This subject has the following hurdle requirements:

  • Regular participation in tutorials is required with a minimum of 75% attendance.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.
Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day and in-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have acquired skills in research, critical thinking and contextualising information.
  • have developed skills in communicating knowledge intelligibly through oral presentations and essays in German.

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