Undergraduate

Final-Year Project titles and abstracts 2016-2017

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Amy Wright, Nazi-Väter und rebellische Töchter: Die NS-Vergangenheit in der Literatur der 68erinnen

Dominic Werth, Catholic priests in the Third Reich & the Nazi persecution of the Jews

Emily Bagshaw, Wie haben die Internierten in Lofthouse Park ihre Lagergemeinschaft strukturiert, welche Bewältigungsstrategien haben sie angenommen, um mit ihrer Gefangenschaft fertig zu werden, und wie haben sie ihre Erfahrungen in der Gefangenschaft dargestellt?

Francesca Elsey, Manipulating Media. The complex relationship between right-wing populist parties and the media: the case of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)

Gina Young, High sein, frei sein, muss eine Frau dabei sein? An investigation into the phenomenon of female left-wing terrorism in West Germany in the 1970s.

Hannah Crittenden, Die Darstellung von Muslimen und des Islams durch burkatragende Frauen nach Merkels Erwähnung eines Burka-Verbots in Deutschland: Eine Medienanalyse

Hannah Seers, Beyond Legislation: A Study into the Impact of Legislation and State Control on Male Homosexual Identity in the German Democratic Republic

Helena Roberts, The reuse of Dachau concentration camp as a representation of Germany’s relationship to memorialization as presented in the media; from refugees to crime since 2014.

Hollie Robson, Representations of Turkish-German integration in schools over the last decade in German media discourse

Katherine Jones, „Wir schaffen das“, die „Flüchtlingskrise“ und Deutschland als Einwanderungsland: eine Diskursanalyse der in deutschen Zeitungen dargestellten Einstellungen und wie diese zur Konstruktion einer bestimmten Realität beitragen

Timothy Jackson, Inwieweit war die Bekennende Kirche im Dritten Reich antisemitisch?

Wilf Joules, What role do contemporary German filmic representations of the GDR play in shaping our perception of the former East German state?

German Dissertation Abstracts 2015/16

Maria Adlam

Der Blick von außen: eine Untersuchung am Beispiel von Heinrich Bölls Der Engel schwieg, Billard um Halb Zehn und Ansichten eines Clowns

Böll’s Outsiders in The Silent Angel, Billiards at Half-Past Nine and The Clown offer the reader an overview of the most important political topics in Germany between 1945 and 1963: survival after the war, hope for a more humane Germany, the “economic miracle” and the first steps towards Vergangenheitsbewältigung/coming to terms with the past (or lack thereof). Through the use of narratology, the Outsiders have been categorised. They develop over time, from being victims of poverty and war, to passive “Inner Emigrants”, to victims of West Germany’s new capitalist, wealthy identity. The portrayal of their individual experiences and problems allow Böll to achieve a sharper political tone in his work. Hans Schnitzler’s struggle for survival serves to show how essential a humane Catholic church would be for Germany’s spiritual revival. Heinrich and Johanna Fähmel’s decision to protect the young “lambs” from the “beasts” highlights the question of Vergangenheitsbewältigung and flashbacks to the painful losses of their children strengthen the justification of their political actions. Hans Schnier’s downfall poses the question of whether Germany’s Capitalist success actually manages to meet the needs of its individual citizens. These characters are far more than just political props: they are neither saints nor villains, have complex back stories and their thoughts and actions are often morally questionable. The literary and political aspects of Böll’s novels complement each other by portraying Outsider figures who embody the human reality of politics. 

Jack Arscott

Stimmen aus der Verbannung: Inwieweit bildet die deutschsprachige Exilliteratur eine einheitliche Gattung?

Drawing on some of the most representative writing of three German language authors of the first half of the twentieth century, this dissertation sets out to debunk the notion of a coherent exile literature in the Nazi period. The study, which concedes a limited amount of common ground, ranges across prose fiction, poetry and autobiography, as well as establishing overlaps with contemporary English men of letters in pursuit of comparable aesthetic and social ends. Thus is the humanism of Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth and Ernst Toller, none of whom survived the Second World War, shown to mirror that of W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood. However, these parallels recede in the face of both primary and secondary evidence pointing to irreconcilable political differences. Zweig's splendid isolation from the supposedly fanatical world of politics, Roth's grudging but unshakeable support for the lost Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Toller's revolutionary socialism are seen to constitute radically different approaches to the common problem of fascist rule in their home countries. The final chapter concerns mainly their divergent understandings of themselves as Jews, contrasting the allegedly symptomatic 'Jewish self-hatred' of the privileged Mitteleuropäer Zweig with Roth's aggressive pride in his Galician origins, and therefore leads to the conclusion that any attempt to lump together the victims of Hitler's black list not only risks a crude simplification of a diverse group of writers, who in fact reflected the whole political spectrum, but also falls into the trap laid by their persecutors in expelling them in the first place. 

Dominic Casey

Der Umgang mit dem Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas nach 2005

This dissertation handles the subject of social and political interaction with the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin since its inauguration in 2005. To begin with it will discuss the interaction of the political elite and the press with the memorial. Namely the use of the memorial in political rhetoric and the reporting of the memorial in the mass media. It will then go on to evaluate the interaction of the public with the memorial, most notably through an in-depth analysis of the portrayal of the memorial by both TripAdvisor and Instagram users. 

Even before the decision was made to build the memorial the project was surrounded by controversy and since 2005 this hasn’t changed. Political appropriation and the behaviour of many visitors have been deemed by many as inappropriate. The mass media especially have taken it upon themselves to polemicize the memorial project. This dissertation gives a far more nuanced argument of the political and social interaction with the memorial, which in the end is what defines its meaning and therefore a very important part of Germany’s working through of the past.

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin must be seen as what it is. It is neither an authentic memory site, nor is it a graveyard. It is a modern attempt to engage people with the past and the lessons that this past has in store for the present and future. It does so in new and invigorating ways, which most definitely shouldn’t immediately be written off as ‘inappropriate’ merely because they are different.

Peter Freeth

Der Einzelne gegen das System: Das Kafka Vorurteil?

Popular opinion on the writing of Franz Kafka in the English literary field is that his works are nightmarish and disorienting in their complexity, and these preconceptions dominate our cultural understand of Kafka as an author. However, throughout the 20th and 21st centuries academics and critics have been discussing the more humorous aspects of Kafka’s works, especially in his longer pieces such as Das Schloß and Amerika. What has not yet been discussed is, firstly, if there are humorous elements to be found in Kafka’s shortest works, some of which may only be a few lines long, and secondly, should these humorous elements be found, how they have been handled in translation. Michelle Woods’ (2012) has opened up the discussion on how translators have influenced our reading of Kafka, but her study still focusses primarily on Kafka’s novels and longer pieces of prose, such as Die Verwandlung. This project therefore aims to analyse Kafka’s shortest stories via the use of the main branches of humour theory (Incongruity Theory, Superiority Theory and Relief Theory), to examine whether they are structured in a way that allows for humour. This analysis will then be compared to the various versions of the same works in English translation, to examine the translatability of these structures. Finally, the project discusses some of the paratextual elements of the translations to see whether they depict the pre-existing interpretations of Kafka’s work and examines the influence of these paratexts in the confirmation or questioning of a reader’s preconceptions.

Daisy Goodison

Fordernde Frauen und Dominante Damen: Inwiefern werden die Anliegen der zweiten Welle der Frauenbewegung in modernen Werken der feministischen Kriminalliteratur reflektiert? Mit besonderem Schwerpunkt auf Dominante Damen von Sabine Deitmer und Nacht Ohne Schatten von Gisa Klönne.

What were the main concerns of the second wave feminist movement and to what extent are they reflected in modern works of feminist German crime literature? On the surface, crime fiction seems unsuitable to reflect socially critical ideas, especially feminist concerns due to a male dominance in the field, fixed gender roles and conservative plotlines that reinforce the social order. However, from the late eighties onwards, feminist crime authors, including Sabine Deitmer and Gisa Klönne, released women-centric texts, that dealt with gender specific issues and problematized the position of women in society. The central themes of feminist crime fiction analysed in this work are violence against women, sexual exploitation and sex work, and discrimination against women in the workplace. The feminist crime novel directly addresses the stereotype of the weak, passive woman. Armed and dangerous, the female detectives of feminist crime literature face violence head on and problematize the often violent dynamic of the male-female relationship. The authors challenge discrimination against sex workers and show the inefficacy of patriarchal structures, such as the law, in protecting women. The professional success of the detectives, despite the challenges of a male dominated work environment reflects the demand for the recognition of female ability and the rejection of the traditional domestic female role. By playing with the rules of a male dominated genre, feminist crime writers subverted the cultural expectations of crime fiction, female writers and the patriarchal social order and created a sub-genre in which both female authors and female characters could flourish.

Rachel Kahn

Street Art in Berlin

Street art has become one of the defining features of Berlin’s aesthetic identity. Its visible presence within the cityscape contributes to how the city is perceived, as well as the image that it projects of itself. In contrast to other European cities, in which one must actively seek out forms of “high” culture, this element of Berlin’s character is ubiquitous and reveals a lot about the history and culture of this city.  

Many artists use street art as a political or revolutionary tool to question structures of property and ownership as well as current social issues. These artists thus aim to unite individuals within society as a more powerful collective force. In recent years, brands have hijacked the medium of street art as a means to gain commercial attention and market their products in a modern and alternative style. Individuals in this city are targeted as consumers, whose purchase power can be influenced by the spatial images surrounding them. As seen through the example of East Side Gallery, it could also be said that street art is used as a marketing strategy to welcome tourist economy in a highly indebted city. Street art is a hugely diverse, controversial and dynamic art form which has a reciprocal relationship with the city – it shapes the identity of Berlin but is also influenced by the events that occur within it. 

Thomas MacPherson

Welche Rolle spielen kleine Organisationen wie Sea-Watch in der aktuellen Migrationskrise?

The Mediterranean migrant crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing Europe today. This essay assesses the necessity of non-governmental search and rescue organisations in the Mediterranean such as Sea-Watch based on the scale of the crisis, the conditions which led to it and whether or not they persist. The role of political action before and during the crisis in contributing to the necessity of non-governmental organisations is also analysed, as is the idea that human rights are a European value and how this influences the need for such organisations. The effectiveness of such organisations in saving lives, informing the public of the crisis and influencing other people to take action is also evaluated, primarily by taking the German organisation Sea-Watch as an example and assessing what they have achieved so far.

The migrant death rate in the Mediterranean is higher than anywhere else in the world. Many conditions that have led to this crisis, such as the instability of Libya, do not show any sure sign of changing. In addition to this, there is no large scale search and rescue operation being conducted by an organisation capable of implementing one big enough, such as the EU. Political agreements, such as that between the EU and Turkey, are not expected to significantly reduce the migrant death rate in the Mediterranean as they don’t tackle what many perceive to be the source of the problem, the fact that there is no legal way for most legitimate refugees to reach the EU. All of these factors contribute to the need for non-governmental search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

Katherine Partridge

Deutschland ist bunt und weltoffen? Eine Studie über die Benachteiligung von allochthonen SchülerInnen im deutschen Schulwesen

This dissertation investigates the academic disadvantages faced by pupils of an immigration background within the German school system. In order to do so, it focuses on the results of the international PISA (Programme for Student Assessment) studies from the years 2000 to 2012, as this study is an indicator of the academic differences between German and non German pupils. It also looks at the measures taken by the German ministry of education to reduce differences in attainment between German and non German pupils. This dissertation compares the German school system with those of other countries tested in the PISA studies in order to make suggestions about why the differences in attainment are so pronounced in Germany. The German ministry of education first started taking serious steps to reduce these differences after the results of the first PISA study in 2000, and this dissertation looks at what those steps were and uses the results of the later studies to assess the success of these measures. To conclude, this dissertation makes suggestions as to how Germany can continue the general upwards trend in the educational attainment of pupils of an immigration background, in light of the sharp increase in migration in 2015, based upon which measures have previously proved successful in Germany or abroad.

Sian Roughley

Inwieweit wird Dresden als ‘Opferstadt’ dargestellt? Eine mediale Untersuchung der Erinnerungskultur zur Bombardierung Dresdens 1945-2015

The bombing of Dresden has always played a large role in the city’s self-identity. The myth of victimhood (Opfermythos) has prevailed in the city throughout its post-war years and remains central to its memory culture today. During the GDR and post-reunification, the anniversaries of the bombing have been instrumental in showing the development of the memory culture as well as demonstrating the meaning individual groups have placed on the bombing and the city’s Opfermythos. While much research already exists on the bombing and its remembrance in the GDR, very little exists on the continued significance of the anniversaries in recent years. In this dissertation, the anniversaries between 2005 and 2015 are analysed to show how the meaning of the Opfermythos has changed/developed. Beginning in 2005, the essay demonstrates how the 60th anniversary turned Dresden into a ‘memory battleground’ with the largest right-extremist demonstration taking place in the city since the end of the war. Through an analysis of the exploitation of the anniversary by right-wing groups, the emergence of antifascist counter-demonstrations, and also the ‘official’ memory of the city, in the form of political speeches and articles, a turning point in 2010 is identified. The essay reveals how the emergence of the antifascist group Dresden Nazifrei along with the 13. Februar working group have contributed to this turning point, and how the meaning of the Opfermythos has changed for them by 2015.

Elleanor Thornton

Criticism or Conformity: How do modern fairy tale adaptations negotiate Grimm’s fairy tale conventions?

Theoretical analysis of Grimm’s fairy tales such as that by Bettelheim and Zipes inform us that fairy tales are about morals and culturally appropriate behaviour. For example, they were a way to define how the bourgeois class should live. Fairy tale conventions consist of certain objects or themes that occur in the stories, such as mythical creatures and specific word structures. For example, ‘Once Upon a Time’. My dissertation explores to what extent fairy tale conventions and theory can be applied to modern films. Additionally, I examine the social message that is portrayed in the adaptations. I analyse Lotte Reiniger’s collection of fairy tale shadow films; Del Toro’s Pans Labyrinth and Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and Tangled. Through this analysis I compare the Grimm’s conventions to modern editions in order to find out how the Grimm’s stories are used today and still influence society. Reiniger adapts the Grimm’s stories and characters only slightly. This inspires viewers to identify with all characters, good or bad, to learn something of value. Del Toro’s film manipulates conventions in a positive way to develop new ways of defining gender and examine hegemonic society. Disney’s mainstream adaptations follow the original Grimm’s tales closely and often have a moral as well as adhere to cultural ‘norms’ and constructed appearances when developing their characters and plots. On the one hand I conclude that Grimm conventions can be used positively to counteract stereotypes and reinforce society values. Alternatively, they are used to contribute to the expected cultural behaviour and society norms.

Thomas van der Ploeg

„Auschwitz nie wieder“ oder „Krieg nie wieder“ – Deutsche militärische Beteiligung im Kosovo, Form der Vergangenheitsbewältigung?

The German intervention in Kosovo in 1999 was Germany’s first military action since the Nazi era. This dissertation looks into the effects that this intervention had/has had on the process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung. The fact that this intervention represents Germany’s first military action since the 2nd World War, first and foremost, indicates a change in foreign policy. The fact that Auschwitz and Hitler have been compared to events and leaders in the Kosovo war suggests that the memory of the second world war played a part in the decision making process.

“Auschwitz never again” and “Never again war” were phrases that were alluded to in an iconic speech made by foreign minister Joschka Fischer to a clearly divided Green party congress. This comparison and others raised many questions as to what role, if any, Germany’s Nazi past should play in political decisions. Moreover, it raised questions of appropriateness. Most prominently: is it appropriate to use Germany’s Nazi Past in order to try and influence public opinion? This debate raises questions linked to Vergangenheitsbewältigung including the idea of the ‘instrumentalisation of the holocaust’. In order to assess the role that the past played in the intervention, this essay is split into two sections focussing on the comparisons between Hitler and Milosevic and the comparison between Kosovo and Auschwitz. I assess comparisons, the media reactions to the comparisons and, most importantly, how this relates back to our understanding of Vergangenheitsbewältigung.

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  1. Why study German at Leeds?
  2. Research-based learning and teaching
  3. Your first year of studying German
  4. A selection of modules on offer 2017-18
  5. Final-Year Project titles and abstracts 2016-2017