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GERMAN 2S03 Mod Germany Cinema (In Engl)

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Iris Bruce


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 502

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24697

Office Hours: Tuesday/Wednesday 16:30-17:30; or by appointment

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:

Required Text:
Available at Titles, the university bookstore.


Reimer, Robert C. German Culture Through Film: An Introduction to German Cinema (Pullins, 2005)


Films will include:


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.  8)

Essay (ca. 2500 words) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40% (due Nov. 12)

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.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

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.

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.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. 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:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

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.

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. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:



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


September  10Introduction: Weimar Cinema; screening: Blue Angel; read Reimer/Zachau 33-41


September  17:   screening: M (Fritz Lang); Reimer 43-49


September  24:   screening:  The Murderers are Among Us (Wolfgang Staudte); Reimer/Zachau 75-83


October         1:  screening:  Naked Among Wolves (Frank Beyer)    


October         8:  film critique due; screening: Sophie Scholl--The Final Days (Marc Rothemund)




October      22:  screening: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder); Reimer 125-32 




October      29:  screening: Lives of the Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) 


November    5:  screening: The Legend of Paul and Paula (Heiner Carow); Reimer 119-24


November 12:  TERM PAPER DUE; The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (Volker Schlöndorff,

                        Margarethe von Trotta); Reimer 133-39  


November 19:  screening: Walk on Water (Eytan Fox)


November 26:  screening: The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin);




December 9-22:   Final Examination Period

Other Course Information:

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.