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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Iris Bruce


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 502

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24697

Office Hours: Wednesday 10:30-12:20 or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Description:


This course explores contemporary German culture and national identity through German films of the past decades. We will examine film as a cultural product which mediates and contributes to the shaping of a national identity. Beginning with pre-World War II films of the Weimar Republic, we will move into the post-WWII period and into contemporary popular culture. The selected films are considered representative of important political, social, and historical changes in German society. We will discuss Weimar culture, World War II, the aftermath of the war, the divided Germany, terrorist threats, the fall of the wall, and the emergence of post-unification multicultural identities. Analyses and discussions will focus on different approaches to the reconstruction of a national identity.




Course Objectives: Students will identify common themes and motifs and analyze diverging developments in East and West Germany against the background of dominant aesthetic and ideological positions at the time of the films’ production and reception. They will be able to trace continuities and shifts in the self-definition of West/East and contemporary Germany through their exploration of the films’ representation of 20th century German history and society.



Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Available at Titles, the university bookstore.


Reimer, Robert C. German Culture Through Film: An Introduction to German Cinema

(Pullins, 2005)


Films will include (on reserve at Mills):


1. The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg)

2. M (Fritz Lang)

3. The Murderers are Among Us (Wolfgang Staudte)

4. Naked Among Wolves (Frank Beyer)

5. Sophie Scholl--The Final Days (Marc Rothemund)

6. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder)

7. Lives of the Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)

8. The Legend of Paul and Paula (Heiner Carow)

9. The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta)  

10. Walk on Water (Eytan Fox)

11. The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin)


Method of Assessment:

Assignments and Evaluations: (Due Dates)


Film critique (800-1000 words, take home). . . .  20% (due Oct. 17)

Essay (ca. 2500 words) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40% (due Nov. 14)

Final Exam . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..40% (scheduled by Registrar’s Office)

The final exam will ask specific and detailed questions about the lectures, films, and your reading assignments. You will have to identify film makers/characters, titles of films, and answer questions about themes and cultural backgrounds relating to the course material. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Written Work and Late Submissions:

Late work will be penalized: there will be a reduction of 3% per day on essays handed in late without permission, and they will receive no extensive commentary.  


Late Assignment Policy:

All essays are due either in class or electronically by the end of the day on the assigned date


McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar "Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:



The discussion of certain films may flow over to the following class.


September  5Introduction: Weimar Cinema; screening: Blue Angel; read Reimer/Zachau 33-41


September  12:  screening: M (Fritz Lang); Reimer 43-49


September  19:   screening:  The Murderers are Among Us (Wolfgang Staudte); Reimer/Zachau 75-83


September  26:  screening:  Naked Among Wolves (Frank Beyer)     


October   3:  screening: Sophie Scholl--The Final Days (Marc Rothemund)


October  17:  film critique due; screening: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder); Reimer 125-32 


October   24:  screening: Lives of the Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) 


October   31:  NO CLASS; Mid-term recess


November 7:  screening: The Legend of Paul and Paula (Heiner Carow); Reimer 119-24


November 14:  TERM PAPER DUE; The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (Volker Schlöndorff,

                        Margarethe von Trotta); Reimer 133-39  


November 21:  screening: Walk on Water (Eytan Fox)


November 28:  screening: The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin); LAST DAY OF CLASSES, REVIEW  



December 6-20:   Final Examination Period

Other Course Information:

Important Note 1: In the event of class cancellations, students will be notified on Avenue. It is your responsibility to check this site regularly for any such announcements.


Link:  (avenue to learn)