Second year - Modern Languages and European Studies

The European Novel

This module focuses on four major European novels: Cervantes' Don Quijote, Stendhal's The Red and the Black, Kafka's The Trial and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Whilst the main focus of the course is on the four prescribed texts, the lectures and seminars will also explore the author's oeuvre as a whole, the historical and ideological contexts impinging on their work, and general themes such as their place in the European novel tradition, narrative structure, characterization and psychology. Students are encouraged to explore these contextual approaches to each text and to reflect on the different contributions each text makes to the tradition of the novel.

European Cinema

This module introduces students to the cinemas of Spain, Italy, France and Germany from their origins in the silent era up to the end of the twentieth century. Four teaching blocks on these national cinemas will look at (1) Spanish cinema from the Surrealist age on, starting with surrealist films by Luis Bunuel and moving via postwar and 1960s developments to post-Franco film and recent and contemporary directors such as Pedro Almodovar (2) Italian film from neorealism and the ‘auteur' cinema of the 1960s and 1970s to developments in contemporary cinema (3) the silent era in France, French poetic realism of the 1930s, the development of ‘auteur' cinema in the 1960s and the postmodern cinema of the 1980s and 1990s (4) German silent film in the Weimar Republic, film in National Socialism, West German and East German cinema 1949-89, and contemporary developments in German.

European Media Culture

The course focuses on three main areas: 1) Media systems, which discusses the characteristics of different media systems in Europe, focusing in particular on questions such as who owns/controls the media in Europe, how the media are organised and the consequences of concentration on some western European nations (i.e. their cultures, as well as the quality of democratic debate); 2) News information objectivity, which considers how a specific ‘genre' (the news) is affected by the diversity of media systems and national cultures of Europe; 3) Media matters, focusing on the extent to which identities are shaped by national media, i.e. the power of the media themselves to influence their consumers.

European Cultural Theory

Are you interested in whether the work of Karl Marx is relevant to the internet? Do you believe politicians when they claim that there is no such thing as ideology? Are you convinced that feminism is dead? In this module you will investigate some of the ways cultural theorists have approached culture. You'll look at issues of class, language, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and ideas of the nation. You'll have a chance to test out theoretical ideas using practical case studies and to decide for yourself whether you're convinced by theories of postmodernism, post-colonialism and post-structuralism. The module is assessed by two essays.




Modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year, for instance because a member of staff is on study leave or too few students opt for it. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.