Narratives from German prisons

Languages & Cultures, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music

College of Arts and Law


Code 23241

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 1 and 2 (can be taken in either for 10 credits)NB: the availability of this module in 2012-13 is uncertain.

Other pre-requisites Advanced knowledge of German required (at least level B2.2)

Module description

The module engages students with writing in German produced in and about prison since 1945. There will be an introductory session on the political and social background of the German prison system and the West German prison reforms of the 1970s, and further session on gender and criminology, and on the practice and function of life narrative.

Students will look at writing published immediately after Nazism, from a `normal’ Nazi prison and from the ghettos and concentration camps. They will then consider the prison writings of German terrorists of the 1970s, and the problem of defining the `political’ prisoner. In the second half of the course we shall look at contemporary projects with Young Offenders in Germany, one of them initiated and run by an ex-terrorist, and seek to assess developments in the discourses of prison writing from the mid-twentieth to the early twenty-first century.

Concluding sessions will draw together the strands of the course and re-examine and evaluate the practice and function of narrative in the prison context.

Teaching and learning methods

Lecturer-led and student-led seminars