German Film of Week: Go Trabi Go

"Go, Trabi, Go" BRD 1990 Walter StumphOur first film in 2015 is Go Trabi Go, a comedy about an East German family who decide to take advantage of their newly acquired freedom to travel and set off for Italy – following in the steps of Goethe’s Italian Journey which took place almost exactly 200 years earlier. Unlike Goethe, the Struutz family travel in the comfort of their own automobile, but “Schorsch” is an old Trabant car and the journey turns out to be quite a challenge for “him”.

One of the first films about East Germany to be made after the Wall came down, Go Trabi Go celebrates Saxonian resilience in the face of adversity and pokes fun at the developing tensions between resourceful East Germans and their richer cousins in the west.

Aston students can access the film through our VLE and it is available online here .

Here is a brief taster:


Viel Vergnügen!

Kraftwerk conference at Aston resounding success


The Kraftwerk conference held at Aston University on 21/22 January 2015 was a resounding success, attracting an audience of over 160 participants. Particular highlights were the keynote address given by Dr Steven Mallinder (formerly of Cabaret Voltaire) and a lively presentation by DJ Rusty Egan (formerly of Visage) who also DJed at the after conference party in the student union bar. The conference attracted considerable media coverage by a number of publications and on several BBC radio channels as well as the BBC Breakfast TV programme.

Aston to host first ever academic conference on Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk performing their retrospective at MOMA Photo: ©BOETTCHER

Kraftwerk performing their retrospective at MOMA Photo: ©BOETTCHER

On 21 and 22 January, 2015, Aston University is hosting the first-ever academic conference on the groundbreaking German electronic band Kraftwerk. Uwe Schütte, organiser of the conference: “I think Kraftwerk are fascinating, and deserve critical, scholarly attention. They’ve received that, but only a little.”

Founded in the early 1970s, they were ahead of their time with regard to the use of technology in producing music. To quote the conference website,

Kraftwerk have long been recognised as major pioneers of electronic music. The group attracted keen interest particularly in the UK, where their innovative sound had a decisive influence on the development of 1980s synth pop.

Over two days, a diverse group of scholars will speak about such diverse topics as “Fun Fun Fun on the Autobahn: Kraftwerk Challenging Germanness”, “We Are the Robots! On the Cultural-Historical Origins of the Man-Machine” and “Cabaret Voltaire and Dada Modernity”. And instead of the usual sit-down conference dinner, participants will get the chance to shake it up at the Kraftwerk Disco.

The conference has garnered great international attention, with a host of international speakers and more than 200 registered participants from across the world. It has also been reported on in the national and international press, for example in The Guardian, leading music magazine NME and German music platform Ampya.

Aston student blogger reporting from Austria

Christmas is everywhere! Birmingham is not the only place that can be proud of its beautiful Christmas market. Linz, the third-largest city in Austria, can also make you feel like Christmas was just a few days away. Beatrice from England has just had the chance to experience that first hand, enjoying Bauernkrapfen, berry punch and beautiful Christmas lights.

She is currently on her year abroad and has been blogging and vlogging about her experiences as a teaching assistant in Austria:

Midlands German Network launched at Aston in January 2015

Connecting Local Schools, Universities and Businesses

MGN logo

Graduates with German language skills are highly sought-after on the British and international labour markets. The Midlands German Network (MGN) is a university-led initiative which fosters cooperation between local schools, universities and businesses. Its aim is to make young people aware of the manifold opportunities, increase the uptake of German, and support recruitment for local employers.

The Midlands German Network will be officially launched at Aston University on January 21, 2015. This launch event will be an opportunity for networking across all three levels. Organisations represented include the German Embassy, the Goethe Institute, and UK-German Connection.

For: Secondary and Primary school teachers, pupils from Year 9 onwards; local businesses and universities, including students; anyone interested in German culture and language.

To find out more about the launch and to register for the event, please click here. Please forward details of the event to interested parties.

Registration deadline: 10 December 2014, although later registration is possible by contacting Any questions or comments should be addressed to this email address.

German Film of the Week: Barbara

imagesThis week’s film is Christian Petzold’s powerful drama Barbara (2012), which portrays a young woman’s struggle  against the East German secret service, the Stasi. Working as a doctor in 1980s East Berlin, Barbara finds herself put under surveillance and banished to a small hospital in a rural backwater, where she soon makes plans for her escape to the West.

Petzold is one of Germany’s most celebrated directors and part of the “Berlin School” of arthouse cinema.

Aston students can access the film through our VLE, and it is also available here (English subtitles) and here (no subtitles) for Box of Broadcast users.


Viel Vergnügen!



German Film of the Week: The Silence (Das letzte Schweigen)

dasletzteschweigenThis week’s film is the 2010 crime drama The Silence (Das letzte Schweigen). In the 1980s, a provincial German town is shaken by the brutal rape and murder of 11 year-old Sinikka. 23 years later, the case remains unsolved, and police officer Mittich is about to enter retirement when another girl is killed in the same way as Sinikka, on the anniversary of her disappearance. Filmed in the vein of Scandinavian Nordic Noir dramas (and starring Ulrich Thomsen, one of Denmark’s most renowned actors) this tense thriller will have you on the edge of your seat.


Aston students can access the film through our VLE, and it is also available here for Box of Broadcast users. Here’s the trailer:



Viel Vergnügen!


Latest publications by Aston scholars

The following publications authored or co-edited by Uwe Schütte are now available:


Die Gegenwart erzählenFleming, Paul / Schütte, Uwe (eds) (2014). Die Gegenwart erzählen. Ulrich Peltzer und die Ästhetik des Politischen. transcript.

Ulrich Peltzer ist einer der profiliertesten und markantesten Autoren der Gegenwartsliteratur. Seine vielgelobten Romane liefern präzise Porträts einer zersplitterten Gegenwart im Kontext urbaner Räume. Mit einer Poetik radikaler Gegenwärtigkeit, die den Verästelungen post-fordistischer Prozesse im Bewusstsein der Romanfiguren nachgeht, registriert Peltzers Literatur sensibel soziale, politische und kulturelle Entwicklungen. Dieser Materialienband mit Einzelstudien internationaler Beiträger/-innen verschafft einen umfassenden Überblick über Ulrich Peltzers Werk. Ein aufschlussreiches Interview sowie eine ausführliche Bibliografie runden die Gesamtdarstellung ab.



InterventionenSchütte, Uwe (2014). Interventionen. Literaturkritik als Widerspruch bei W. G. Sebald. edition text+kritik.

G. Sebald ist einer der anerkanntesten und zugleich umstrittensten Schriftsteller der deutschen Literatur des späten 20. Jahrhunderts. Sein vielgerühmtes literarisches Werk ruht auf einem Fundament, das größtenteils kaum bekannt ist, nämlich die im Verlauf von rund 30 Jahren entstandenen kritischen Schriften. “Interventionen” bietet erstmals einen so tiefschürfenden wie umfassenden Überblick über die Literaturkritik Sebalds unter Einbezug zuvor unveröffentlichter Archivdokumente.

Uwe Schütte legt anschaulich dar, wie sich Sebalds eigenwillige Literaturkritik – von der Magisterarbeit über Carl Sternheim bis zum polemischen Essay “Luftkrieg und Literatur” – entwickelt hat. Seine Studie skizziert damit die intellektuelle Biografie des vom Allgäu in die Provinz East Anglias entlaufenen Germanisten. Vor allem aber zeichnet “Interventionen” nach, wie Sebald im kritischen Widerspruch zu Germanistik und deutscher Nachkriegsliteratur selbst zum Schriftsteller wurde.


Uwe has also co-edited a volume on German author Klaus Böldl with Aston Senior Lecturer Claudia Gremler (see earlier blog post)

Gremler, Claudia / Schütte, Uwe (eds) (2014). Raumerkundungen. Der Erzähler Klaus Böldl. Königshausen und Neumann.


German Film of the Week: Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon)

das-weisse-band-film-540x304This week’s film is Michael Haneke’s harrowing dissection of German society in the early 20th century.The White Ribbon has been aptly described by The Guardian as “a ghost story without a ghost, a whodunnit without a denouement, a historical parable without a lesson, an unforgettably disturbing and mysterious film”.

vlcsnap-2010-02-28-18h42m02s164Outwardly the story of life in a small village in pre-Nazi Germany, where strange attacks take place with the culprit remaining a mystery and the children presenting a hostile unified front against all adult investigations, The White Ribbon touches on timeless issues of social behaviour and human cruelty, whilst implicitly suggesting that this is a portrayal of the generation that would allow Hitler to rise to power.

Aston students can access the film through our VLE, and it is also available here  for Box of Broadcasts users.

Here’s the trailer:

Viel Vergnügen!