MO4973 Twentieth-Century Germany: A Sense of Place
Lecturer Dr Riccardo Bavaj   (St Katharine’s Lodge, room 2.23)
Credits 60  
Availability Not currently running
Class Hour 9.30 - 12.30


This module explores the history of twentieth-century Germany from the perspective of place and space. Centred on the key concept of Heimat (homeland), it examines German identities from the turn of the century to the 1980s. It investigates a variety of different places and spaces in both their material and symbolic dimension. The module allows students to engage with a range of different primary sources, including films, maps, travel guidebooks and the built environment.

Basic Reading

Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials. The German Idea of Heimat (1990)
David Blackbourn, The Conquest of Nature. Water, Landscape and the Making of Modern Germany (2006)
Guntram Henrik Herb, Under the Map of Germany. Nationalism and Propaganda, 1918-1945 (1997)
Rudy Koshar, From Monuments to Traces. Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990 (2000)


Course Structure

    Semester 1
    1 Introduction
    2 Local, regional, national: Heimat – the German home(land)
    3 Borderlands: the boundaries of Germanness
    4 The lost German East: memories of home
    5 Divided nation: the wall
    6 Inventing a socialist homeland: Heimat in the GDR
    7 No place like home: locations of Heimat in German cinema
    8 Essay preparation tutorials
    Mental maps
    9 Baedeker’s Germany: travel guidebooks
    10 Postcolonial Germany: memories of empire
    11 Shifting positions: ‘East’, ‘West’, and in-between

    Semester 2
    Living space
    1 Geopolitics and Lebensraum
    2 Suggestive maps
    3 Empire-building
    Spaces of violence
    4 Ghettos
    5 Concentration camps
    Public spaces
    6 Party rallies and mass mobilization
    7 Protest marches and social movements
    Green spaces
    8 Nature and nation
    9 Landscape and Autobahn
    Urban spaces
    10 Cityscapes and preservation
    11 Ruins and traces



60% coursework - two extended essays, two gobbet exercises, and oral presentations
40% examination - two take-home examinations (3/6 questions and 10 hours each)



  • Familiarity with ‘spatial history’ as one of the recent trends in modern historiography
  • Reflection on key issues in twentieth-century German history
  • Ability to analyse primary sources of various kinds (incl. maps and the built environment).



Available only to students in the second year of the Honours programme

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