Monthly Archives: August 2017

Week 1 – German Literary History (Part 2)

The ups and the downs of early-mid German literature lead from Germanic tribes and their sin, death and the devil focus, to the ‘courtly love’ era of the late 1100s and early 1200s, to deep love, death and corruption of the Baroque era. They had it all,  but more was yet to come – in fact the pinnacle of German literature and Germany’s answer to Shakespeare & co. as well as late 19th and 20th century authors who left their profound influence on even today’s world.

 

 

Nineteenth Century  

Weimarer Classicism: This period owes its name to Goethe and Schiller’s residence at Weimar and revolves around these two key figures in Germany’s literary history, but you can read more about these two in Infosheet 1…

Romanticism: The romantic period in Germany developed late compared to its counterpart in England, and, as the name suggests, was characterised by romantic works of literature, however, the German authors of this period, unlike the English ones, also brought humorous themes into their works. Whilst romance was the core theme of this period, some notable authors also brought strong cases of violence and heavy drama into their works.

Realism and Naturalism: After Goethe’s death, the focus of German literature yet again changed. A new group of younger writers wanted to have a direct impact on politics and society and their morals. The key literary forms of this period were pamphlets, essays, journalism and satire, and many of these authors, by agitating politicians, were actually prohibited from publishing their works in Germany and even imprisoned. The last two decades of the 19th century again brought upon changes in German literature with a movement towards naturalism – there was a newfound concern for social problems, particularly those of the lower class, and the nature of the human psyche.

 

Twentieth Century

German Modernism: The beginning of this century was made up of a combination of literary movements including expressionism, neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity), and Dada with expressionism being the best known. Expressionism was a powerful response to World War 1 concerning itself with the chaos and suffering of modern life. Literary works focused on images of war, oppression and illness.

Post-1945: The post-war literature from the area which became West Germany was strongly influenced by other European literature and American literature. The period saw many stage dramas written and performed tackling difficult topics which had emerged due to the war. Over the next two decades the themes of war and politics were heavily present throughout German literature.

Postmodernism and Reunification: The last decades of the 20th century were influenced by international postmodernism – a movement which attempted to appeal to both a popular and more sophisticated readership. Works included parodies, revisions of fairy tales, and ironic representations of contemporary feminism. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, writers again moved towards heavier topics, such as tensions in politics and society. There were stories of self-discovery, guilt, desires and violence.

 

 

21st century:

Congratulations for making it all the way to the present day!

In the past two decades German literary works have focused on a variety of different topics. Whilst there are still many works being published on political and social problems, and reflections on the war, there are popular German writers in all genres – whether you’re into romance, comedy, drama, mystery – there’s sure to be something for everyone to enjoy!

 

 

Images and information retrieved from:

https://www.britannica.com/art/German-literature

https://baroquemyriam.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/romanticism/

http://www.kulturzeiten.de/die-wichtigsten-epochen-der-deutschen-literatur.html

 

 

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Week 1 – German Literary History (Part 1)

Welcome to week 1 of our Oktoberfest learning materials.

The topic for this week is German literature – more specifically, the people behind Germany’s best literary works. Infosheet 1 takes you all the way from classics like Goethe and Schiller to contemporary authors such as David Safier and Cornelia Funke.

In this two part blog we thought we would take you on a short journey throughout the German literary periods. One trend which is immediately noticeable is that German literature has always been strongly influenced by what was happening in the country, with religion and politics having the strongest influence. So let the literary journey begin…

 

 

The Origins and Middle Ages

Pre-Christian and early Christian periods: Around the first century BC the Germanic tribes moved from mainland Scandinavia to the area which we know today as Germany. Their tales were generally orally transmitted, and all that remains are a few broken runic inscriptions. Years later, when Germans converted to Christianity, most literary works were religious texts, largely focusing on topics such as sin, the Devil and death.

Middle High German: Literary works from this era document a very civilized process – they highlight a significant transformation in ethics and values in the post-Roman western society. This transition was from the rough and brutal warrior values developed during the medieval period in Europe to a society filled with ideals of love, elegance and humanity. Throughout the years 1160 to 1180 German flourished as a literary language and there was a strong focus on ‘courtly love’ – a conception of love which emphasized nobility and chivalry (for example, knights going on adventures, such as slaying a dragon, for a lady due to their ‘courtly love’).

Late Middle Ages/ Early Renaissance: In the late middle ages, after many years of literary works focusing on courtly love, the theme of death, yet again, became the focus of German literature. Whilst the renaissance period began – famous for its rich art and architecture – it was a poor time for German literature, with only a few notable works being written in this period.

 

 

Early Modern German Literature

Reformation: The 16th century in Germany marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible. Almost the entire century’s literary works focused on religious topics which were now able to reach larger audiences due to the invention of the printing press (but more about that next week…).

The Baroque: The 17th and early 18th centuries in Germany were another poor period for German literature. The era was a time of chaos filled with contradictions and extremes: particularly extreme religious views and differences in wealth. German literature from this period reflected this state of chaos by focusing on extremes such as deep love, death, corruption and the illusory nature of life (the idea that life is an illusion is very prominent in Baroque literature).

 

 

Eighteenth Century

Age of Enlightenment: The enlightenment period brought with it drastic revolutions in in science, philosophy, society and politics with strong ideals of freedom and equality spread throughout the masses. This period was rich in literature around Europe, including Germany: from poems to plays, to short stories and novels. There were dramas, tragedies, comedies – you name it, the enlightenment period had it!

Late Enlightenment – Sturm und Drang: The Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) movement extends the ideas of the early enlightenment period and focused on topics such as natural law (a system of right or justice for all humans, regardless of status, and derived from nature, rather than from the rules of society), constitutional government, and the rights of the middle-class (particularly those of middle-class women!). There was a further trend towards bourgeois tragedies, historical dramas and dramatic satires, with authors attacking political and social conditions.

 

 

Images and information retrieved from:

https://www.britannica.com/art/German-literature

http://www.arthistory.upenn.edu/fall05/100302.html

http://verein-abraham.ch/blog/blog/2017/06/30/reformation/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v72x6

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Cliché 16 – Es gibt nur eins, was besser ist als ein Hund – zwei Hunde!

Think of a German dog breed.

Now think of another.

Ok, now think of a third.

Starting to struggle? You’re not alone!

Most people think of the German Shepherd when they think of German dog breeds, but there are many more!

Which ones are the 5 most popular around the world? Read on to find out more…

 

 

  1. German Shepherd

Of course the German Shepherd is among the top 5 most popular German dog breeds. They are a rather large breed of dog, able to perform a variety of activities – from herding sheep, to police work (you may be familiar with TV’s most famous German Shepherd – Kommissar Rex!) and helping people with disabilities. German Shepherds are known for their high level of intelligence and their reliability. Their history dates back to 1890 when cavalry captain Max Emil Frederick worked on developing a working dog breed which had a noble appearance.

 

 

  1. Boxer

Boxers are a medium-sized dog breed and are known for their loyal character. They are very patient dogs and make great family pets. The first Boxers appeared around the late 19th century and were bred by crossing two, now extinct, dog breeds – the Brabant Bullenbeisser and the Old Bulldog. Boxers were originally used as messenger dogs and to carry wounded soldiers.

 

 

  1. Pomeranian

One of the world’s favourite toy dogs also originates from Germany – the Pomeranian. There are three main types of Pomeranian dogs: fox-faced, teddy-faced and doll-faced. They are a very noble and affectionate dog breed and require constant attention from their owners. They originated in a small area between Poland and Germany, called Pomerania – hence their name. Although they used to be much larger and used as cattle dogs, they are now quite a small breed and thus very popular in larger cities where most people live in apartments.

 

 

  1. Rottweiler

Rottweilers are medium or large dogs with a very strong and athletic appearance. They are often considered as a dangerous dog breed, however, they have only gained this reputation due to irresponsible owners who have positively reinforced aggressive behaviour. In general, Rottweilers are very obedient and intelligent dogs and can be incredibly lovingly and friendly if raised properly. Their origin dates back all the way to the Holy Roman Empire where their ancestors where used for shepherding and protecting. The first Rottweiler breed was born in Germany in the region of Rottweil.

 

 

  1. Dachshund

Who could forget the Dachshund – also known as Sausage Dog? Its name in German literally means ‘badger dog’ and the breed is characterised by their long body and short legs. Their history dates back to 1888 where they were officially entered into the first German breed club. Although they are generally very friendly and playful dogs, they have a natural drive to prey and often chase small animals and attack them.

 

Other popular German dog breeds include: the Schnauzer, Miniature Pinscher, Great Dane, Doberman and Weimaraner.

 

Is the German Shepherd a popular German dog breed? Of course! Is it the only popular German dog breed? No!

This myth has definitely been:

 

Images and information retrieved from:

https://www.animalwised.com/the-10-most-popular-german-dog-breeds-1250.html

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Cliché 15 – Frosty or Freundlich?

When many people imagine Germans, they think of very cold and unwelcoming people – this is often due to their portrayal in Hollywood movies – however, after visiting or living in Germany many people are surprised at how untrue this is!

Let’s have a look at some of the following situations:

 

Berlin

Photo: Digital Version/ Getty Images/ dpa/ picture alliance/ B.Z.- Montage

 

  1. You have just arrived in Berlin, your starting point for a trip around Europe. You arrived last night, got to your hotel or hostel, had a shower, slept, ate some breakfast and are now bright eyed and bushy tailed, standing on the Friedrichstraβe with a giant map in hand. It is not uncommon for a German to approach you in this situation (particularly if you are alone) and ask if you require some assistance. This person tells you, that you need to head to the U-Bahn station and take the U-Bahn for 4 stations to get to your destination. You walk down to the U-Bahn platform where you are confronted with a ticket machine – but which ticket do you buy? You turn around and see someone waiting to use the machine and ask them which ticket you require, and they will probably run you through your options and help you find the best one (unless they are in a rush and the U-Bahn is coming in 1 minute, in which case it might be best to let them go first and ask someone else!).

 

Breakfast

 

  1. You are in high school and are going on exchange to Germany over the summer holidays. You nervously walk out of the doors at Frankfurt Airport where you see your exchange family waiting for you with a big welcome sign and huge smiles across their faces. Waiting on your bed at home is a selection of German chocolates. Your host mother has made a lovely dinner for you and sends you to bed early, so that you have a better chance of getting over your jet lag. In the morning your host family greets you at the breakfast table – which is covered with every breakfast food imaginable – and asks you about what you’d like to see during your stay in Germany, so that they can try and take you everywhere you’d like to go.

 

Refugees

 

  1. At the beginning of the current refugee crisis, the world turned to see what Germany would do – and they did exactly what everyone expected them to do: they opened up their arms and their hearts to welcome those in need. Most cities were overwhelmed by the amount of items donated – everything from food, to clothing, and medical supplies. In many cities refugees were welcomed by a large feast prepared by the locals and many people around the country, particularly students, have volunteered their free time to teach the refugees English.

 

Is everyone in Germany super friendly and welcoming? Of course not.

Is everyone in Germany cold and welcoming? Absolutely not – not even close! We’d say this myth is totally:

busted

 

Images and information retrieved from:

http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/the_wednesday_chef/2013/04/a-real-german-breakfast.html

 

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Cliché 14 – Deutsche lieben Sport. Ritter Sport!

Do Germans love football? Absolutely! Just about everyone has a Bundesliga team which they follow, and every week (during the football season) thousands of fans around the country flock to football stadiums to support their favourite team(s).

… But is football the only sport which Germans play? Absolutely not!

 

Schumacher

 

Motorsport (Formula 1)

Michael Schumacher. Sebastian Vettel.

Nowadays these are household names, not only in Germany, but around the world. These two drivers dominated the world of Formula 1 for many years and made watching the races on a Sunday afternoon a favourite German pastime.

 

BadBoys

Copyright: DHB/ Tilo Wiedensohler

 

Handball

Handball is a widely played and loved sport in Germany. The German National Team – Bad Boys (link to http://www.badboys-handball.com/nationen/deutschland) – is considered one of the best teams in the world, boasting nine world championship titles and two European championship titles. After winning their last world championship title in 2007, the team had a rocky performance for a few years, missing out on qualifying for the European championship in 2014. At the European championship in 2016, the Bad Boys were predicted to get kicked out of the competition in the group stage, however, in what has been described as a Sommermärchen (summer fairy tale), they ended up winning the entire competition.

 

IceHockey

Copyright: City-Press GbR

 

Ice Hockey

Although Canada and the USA are most famous for their love of ice hockey, Germans love it too! In fact, many people say that there is no sport in Germany where the fans are as noisy, and party quite as hard at the games, than at ice hockey games. Most major cities in Germany have an ice hockey team – so why not head to a game sometime and see if this rumour is true?

Although not many German players have made it into the American NHL, the German ice hockey league is considered to be one of the best leagues worldwide.

 

Tennis

Copyright: AFP

 

Tennis

The hype around tennis in Germany started in the 90s. Boris Becker became the youngest player ever to win the title of Wimbledon, whilst Steffi Graf was the top female player in the world for many years (you can get a picture with Boris and Steffi at Madame Tussauds in Berlin!). The hype died down for a few years, but with Angelique Kerber winning the Australian Open and US Open in 2016, the nation is once again closely following the sport.

 

Skiing

 

Skiing

Ask any German what they are doing over the winter break, and many will reply “Ich fahre in den Skiurlaub” (I’m going on a skiing holiday). Every winter, the roads heading towards the mountains are full of traffic jams, as most families and friend groups head up to the Alps to spend a week or two skiing or snowboarding (and warming up with a hot chocolate by the fire in the ski huts).

 

Cycling

Photo: Tim de Waele | http://www.tdwsport.com/

 

Cycling

Many people enjoy cycling in Germany, in fact, in one week in Germany you will see more people cycling around town than you may see in Australia in an entire year. When it comes to the professional sport, there are not too many professional cyclists, however, Germans do enjoy watching sport on TV of an afternoon – particularly the Tour de France. In fact, cycling is one of the most watched sports on TV in Germany!

                                                                                                                                                                    

The myth that football is the only sport which Germans play or watch is absolutely:

busted

 

Images and information retrieved from:

http://www.movingto-germany.com/top-10-sports-in-germany/

http://www.tourism-review.com/ski-tourism-in-germany-to-be-hit-by-climate-change-news4896

 

 

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Cliché 13 – Are you bread-y?

Last week was all about cake, so let’s talk about our second favourite baked item: bread!

When Germans come to Australia, their first complaint will usually be “Es gibt hier keine richtigen Brötchen und das Brot hat keine Körner!” (There are no proper bread rolls here and the bread doesn’t have any grains!”) Australians then often think “What on Earth are they on about? Our bread is fine! What a weird thing to complain about…”

The common stereotype is that Germans love their bread and that they know how to bake it! Is this true? Let’s find out…

 

k7251-27

 

The very first bread was made sometime over 10,000 years ago when people started to harvest grains for food. The grains were ground down and mixed together with water to create porridge. A little while later, this ‘porridge’ was baked in ashes or on top of hot stones to make a sort of flatbread. This initial ‘baking’ lead to two ground-breaking discoveries:

  1. People realised that if they surrounded the mixture with heat, rather than just placing it on a hot stone, this would create a round bread – and thus, the first ovens were born!
  2. People discovered that if they let the mixture stand for a few days, yeast would be attracted to the dough, which would make it rise, resulting in much lighter, airy breads.

Who knew that adding water to a few grains would result in the invention of one of our favourite kitchen appliances?

 

Symbolbild Bäckerei

 

Now, the baking of this initial bread occurred in several places around the world. Throughout the years, bread has become more than just a food in Germany – it has become an integral part of the country’s culture. Germans start their day by eating Brötchen (bread rolls) for breakfast, and finish their day with a light Abendbrot (literally, “evening bread”) (Germans eat their main meal at lunch time and therefore only have a light evening meal). Bread is also found at every festival – whether it be a Fischbrötchen (bread roll with fish) in Hamburg or a Leberkässemmel (meat loaf on a bread roll) at Munich’s Oktoberfest, and, of course, the big, soft Brezeln (pretzels) should never be missing!

Did you know that Germany produces more varieties of bread than any other culture? There are over 300 varieties of dark and light breads made in Germany, as well as more than 1,200 varieties of bread rolls and other small breads. As with all German food, there is no “typical” German bread, as the “typical” type is dependent on what region you are in. Overall, people in the northern parts typically prefer the darker, heavier breads, such as rye breads, whereas those in the southern parts generally prefer lighter breads made with wheat.

You can find out more about the different categories of German bread here: http://www.germanfoodguide.com/breadcat.cfm

 

Overall, the myth that Germans love bread and know how to bake it is definitely

confirmed

 

 

Images and information retrieved from:

http://www.germanfoodguide.com/bread.cfm

https://ohgodmywifeisgerman.com/2016/05/16/american-expat-tries-and-fails-to-make-german-bread/

http://m.uk.diplo.de/Vertretung/unitedkingdom/en/01/4IntangibleHeritage/Bread.html

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