The Tides of German Nationalism (Winter 2019)

Draft. See course Blackboard or syllabus distributed in class for official version.

Syllabus – The Tides of German Nationalism

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Office: McCaffray Hall 3092

Office hours: Mondays, 13:30-14:30 and by appointment


Term: Winter 2019

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 16:00-17:20

Location: 5-183

Course Description: This course explores German history from 1806 (the formal end of the Holy Roman Empire) to the present, focusing on the establishment and transformation of many political, social, and economic regimes on roughly one territory. The course aims to provide an understanding of German history and Germany’s place in Europe and the world as well as to strengthen students’ knowledge of topics such as state formation, nationalism, gender, social structures, wartime experience, genocide, and political ideologies. Through a combination of lectures, secondary sources, and primary documents, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the course themes.

Learning Objectives:

1) A greater understanding of the history of Germany.

2) A greater understanding of the connections between local, national, and global history.

3) A greater ability to analyze primary documents and historiography.

4) An introduction to cultural history with a focus on films, novels, and secondary sources that use this methodology.

Course Structure: Class time in this course will be divided between lectures and group discussions of assigned reading. Mondays will generally consist of a lecture, and Wednesdays will generally be dedicated to a discussion of the readings.


a) Attendance and participation, 20%

b) In-class presentation, 10%

c) Assignment 1: Historical film analysis, 800-1000 words, February 4, 15%

d) Midterm test, March 4, 25%

e) Peer review workshop, March 25, 5%

f) Assignment 2: Historiographic research essay, 3000-4000 words, April 1, 25%

g) Bonus mark: Northern Historical Conference, 2019, 3%

a) Attendance and participation. Regular attendance is a requirement in this course. As a third-year course, discussion is an important part of learning. Students are expected to actively participate in the discussion of the readings. Students will be required to read 80-110 pages per week, and they should demonstrate a mastery of the readings and share some critical thoughts about the arguments presented. Contributions to the discussion should be based on the readings and be respectful to classmates.

b.1) In-class presentation. Dates to be chosen in the first week of class. Each student will have to make one presentation to the group (4-5 minutes) on the main themes that appear in the week’s assigned readings. Students should identify the main argument of the article or chapter and connect it to the general themes of the course. Students should conclude with two broad questions that stimulate discussion. There may be two presentations on the same day, and students are to coordinate among themselves.

b.2) Article analysis. Instead of an in-class presentation. 700-900 words. Students are to find any article published in a peer-reviewed history journal after 2008 that pertains to German history. After briefly summarizing the article, students are to answer these two questions: How does the author conceptualize the nation, state, and/or country? What role do gender, race, or class play in the author’s analysis? This assignment should be submitted in paper form (and stapled) by Wednesday, February 13.

c) Assignment 1: Historical film analysis. 800-1000 words. Students are to analyze any German-language film that depicts the past, and they are encouraged to draw from the suggested films included in this syllabus (see page 3). Students should consult and cite at least two scholarly sources about the period depicted in the film. Students should focus on one theme (such as gender, war, power, love, activism, ideology, religion, etc). They should also answer the question: What historical narrative does the film present? Students are to submit their printed (and stapled) essays in class.

d) Term test. 75 minutes, in class on Monday, March 4. Students will be asked to answer two of four questions in essay form. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and readings, and questions will be broad enough to allow students to discuss several weeks of readings and lectures.

e) Peer review workshop. Evaluation will be based on attendance and participation as well as on bringing a completed draft of the final essay to class. Students will have to attend class and participate in the exercise in order to receive any marks for this assignment. Students need to bring a draft of their final essay (at least 7 pages). Students need to bring three printed copies of their essays. Two will be read by two classmates, and those classmates will give the author feedback. The other essay will be left with Dr. Bryce to ensure that the student has completed a draft of the essay. Revision is an important part of academic writing, and the goal of this exercise is to help students give and receive feedback to peers in order to revise their work.

f) Assignment 2: Historiographic research essay. 10-12 pages. Students will be asked to write a historiographic research essay. Students must identify and analyze a topic in the history of Germany. They are to draw from at least ten publications (books, articles, or chapters in edited volumes). Outside research is required, and at least ten books, articles, or chapters not assigned in this course must be examined. Students can analyze research assigned in class, but it must be in addition to ten other publications. Because Dr. Bryce will be away at a conference on the due date, students are to submit their essays as PDFs via Blackboard.

g) Bonus mark. Northern Historical Conference. Students are invited to present a revised version of Assignment 1 (Historical Film Analysis). A conference paper needs to be approximately 2,220 words, which is significantly longer than Assignment 1. The papers can be slightly shorter if the students incorporate film clips (no more than 3 minutes total) or still images. To receive this bonus mark, students need to incorporate my feedback on Assignment 1, send me a new paper by February 25 (at least 2,000 words in length), and present at the conference, which takes place March 1-2, 2019. Completing these three requirements will lead to a 3% bonus in your overall grade. The call for papers can be found on the website below, and the deadline to submit a proposal is February 1.

Required Readings:

Matthew Jeffries. Contesting the German Empire 1871-1918. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2008.

Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front (any edition).

Timothy Snyder. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books, 2010

Monica Black. Death in Berlin: From Weimar to Divided Germany. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Anna Funder. Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (any edition).


Students are encouraged to watch the following films over the course of the semester, and they can be used for assignment 1. Films such as these provide an opportunity to learn more about German history and the way that contemporary German society conceptualizes the past. These films touch on many of the topics in this course, and they will bring you closer to German culture. Germany has a vibrant film industry, and history figures prominently in it.

Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon) (2009)

Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) (1979)

Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days) (2005)

Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004)

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex) (2008)

Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) (1987)

Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) (2006)

Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) (2001)

Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)

Gegen die Wand (Head-on) (2004)

Der junge Karl Marx (The Young Karl Marx) (2017)

Course Overview:

January 9 – Romanticism, Revolution, and Realism, 1806-1864

  • No class on Monday, January 7

January 14 and 16 – Unification and Imperial Consolidation

  • Readings:
    • Matthew Jeffries, Chapters 2 and 3, pp. 47-125.

Last day to add/drop courses without financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. January 17.

January 21 and 23 – Germany, Europe, and the World, 1871-1914

  • Readings:
    • Matthew Jeffries, Chapters 4, 5, and 6, pp. 126-202.

January 28 and 30 – World War I

  • Readings:
    • Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front.

February 4 and 6 – Weimar Germany: A Cultural History

  • Readings:
    • Monica Black, Introduction and Chapter 1, pp. 1-68.

Historical film analysis. Due in lecture on Monday, February 4

February 11 and 13 – The Rise of National Socialism and the Racial State

  • Readings:
    • Monica Black, Chapters 2 and 3, pp. 69-144.

February 18 and 20 – Reading Week (and Family Day)

  • No classes

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. February 22.

February 25 and 27 – World War II

  • Readings:
    • Monica Black, Chapters 4 and 5, pp. 145-228.

Midterm test. In lecture on Monday, March 4

March 4 and 6 – The Holocaust

  • Readings:
    • Timothy Snyder, Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, and 3, pp. 1-118.

March 11 and 13 – West Germany

  • Readings:
    • Timothy Snyder, Chapters 4, 5, 6, pp. 119-224.

March 18 and 20 – East Germany

  • Readings:
    • Timothy Snyder, Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, pp. 225-338.

March 25 and 27 – The Cold War in a Divided Germany

  • Readings:
    • Anna Funder, Chapters 1-14, pp. 1-147.

Peer review workshop. In class on Monday, March 25

April 1 and 3 – Germany, Soccer, and the Nation, 1990-2006

  • No class this week
  • Readings:
    • Anna Funder, Chapters 15-28, 148-282.

Research essay due on Monday, April 1. Submit as a PDF via Blackboard

Blackboard: This course uses Blackboard. Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on Blackboard three weeks before the due date. Students should check this site regularly. Grades will not be posted to the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

SafeAssign: Students are required to submit a digital version of their essays to SafeAssign (Assignments 1 and 2) through Blackboard. SafeAssign describes itself as “a tool used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of sources to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.” If you do not want to submit your essay through SafeAssign, you can instead submit a printed version of your essay along with photocopies of all your research notes in lecture on the due date.

Definition of Grades: Papers for this course will be marked according to the scale set by the History Department. An “A” essay is an excellent piece of work, which argues a clearly developed and challenging thesis, the proof of which is grounded in an exceptional usage of relevant primary and/or secondary literature. The research should demonstrate both critical evaluation and creativity while the writing should be sophisticated, coherent, and grammatically sound. In order to receive a final grade in the range of A- to A+, students will be expected to demonstrate consistently: independence of thought; subtle and complex analysis; the ability to grasp, articulate, and respond to arguments offered by others; and an exceptional understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “B” essay demonstrates good research skills, a clearly stated thesis, and a generally successful attempt to develop it logically, based upon secondary literature. The research should reflect an above-average development of ideas and criticism, while the writing should be clear and demonstrate a basic competence in organizational skills and grammar. As such, there should be few grammatical or structural errors. In order to receive a final grade in the range of B- to B+, students will be expected to demonstrate: the potential to engage in independent thought; an appreciation of the complexity of the issues under consideration; and a good understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “C” essay demonstrates that the author possesses a basic understanding of the material and some of the secondary literature, but has unsuccessfully endeavoured to articulate a thesis. While revealing knowledge, comprehension, and some application of information, usually the work also contains grammatical, structural, and organizational errors or flaws. Overall, the essay is adequate but uninspired. In order to receive a final grade in the range of C- to C+, students will be expected to demonstrate some awareness of the complexity of the issues under consideration and a satisfactory understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “D” essay fails to make its case or articulate a thesis. It is marked by a combination of illogical thinking, grammatical errors, flawed research, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the assignment. There is little application, analysis, or integration of ideas, and the essay generally fails to demonstrate a working knowledge of the topic at hand. In order to receive a final grade of D, students will be expected to demonstrate minimal competence. Although there may be evidence of an understanding of certain aspects of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussion, there is also evidence of difficulty in applying or communicating this understanding.

An “F” essay is inadequate in that it demonstrates fragmentary and often undigested information. It tends towards compiling rather than analyzing information and reveals a weakness in critical or analytical skills. The use of literature is often severely limited if not inappropriate or irrelevant. Overall, the essay is marked by a profound absence of thinking about the topic or the assignment. In order to receive a final grade of F, students will have failed to give evidence of being intellectually engaged in the subject matter of the course and will have failed to demonstrate even a minimal understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

Evaluation of written work: Assignments will be returned accompanied by comments noting areas that need attention. Assignments will only be returned to the writer. Questions about grades cannot be answered effectively by e-mail. Please read carefully the Definition of Grades (above) before discussing your grade on an assignment with Dr. Bryce. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with me only for administrative matters. Please come to the scheduled office hours to address questions that you have or raise them in class. If you cannot make it to my office hours, please e-mail me to set up an alternative appointment. I will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail. Assignments will not be accepted by email. Please use your UNBC e-mail address to communicate with me, and please check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the drop-in writing centre in the library ( The Academic Success Centre also provides helpful services to students for free (

Technology etiquette in the classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. I advise that you print a copy of the notes that you take on the assigned readings and participate in class discussions using those notes. Please turn off your cellphones before class begins. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Lateness penalty: Assignments are due in class on the date specified in this syllabus. If an assignment is not handed in in class, it is considered a day late. The late submission of an assignment will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 1%, 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. This late penalty applies to weekends and holidays as well. No assignments will be accepted after eight days without a valid medical certificate.

Submission of late assignments: To submit a late assignment, hand in a paper version to the administrative assistant in the Department of History (Loreen Obst, whose office is room 3007 on the third floor of McCaffray Hall) before 16:30 on a weekday. She will date-stamp the essay. Once you hand in the paper version, send me an e-mail and a digital copy of your essay so that I know to look for it in my departmental mailbox. If you wish to hand in an assignment on a weekend or after hours, send me your assignment via e-mail and then hand in the hardcopy on the next business day. The Department of History will not be held responsible for any late assignments that go missing. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with me in advance of the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify Dr. Bryce as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UNBC Wellness Centre or the Registrar’s Office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Academic honesty and plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints.

The University of Northern British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously. Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here:

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;
  • to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the university or elsewhere.

Accessibility and accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability/health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach Dr. Bryce to discuss your needs. If you require accommodations for a disability, or have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at (

Student conduct: The University of Northern British Columbia is an academic community whose purpose is to search for knowledge through teaching, research, and the free exchange of ideas. As such, UNBC is committed to developing among its members an enduring sense of community rooted in a working and learning environment which emphasizes mutual respect and tolerance and which is free from discrimination, harassment, disruptive behaviour, and violence. The members of the UNBC community include students, faculty, staff, administrators, governors, senators, and, in certain contexts, visitors. In order for the members of the university community to participate fully and effectively in the university’s purpose, certain standards of conduct must be recognized and respected. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website: