English - Free topic D: 20th century Europe: War Technology and Culture

Course content

The central goal of this course is to analyze how individuals and societies narrate, process and recover from industrialized violence and traumatic memories in Europe during the twentieth century and beyond. We will focus on how experiences with violence shaped the human psyche and culture, and the ways in which these experiences are expressed in diverse forms of language (including letters, diaries, literature, art and film). Collective forms of memory-building will be an important topic, but we will also highlight the more subjective, ‘hidden’ ways in which individuals try to describe the emotional and spiritual impact of modern war. Of particular interest will be the mechanisms that humans use to build resilience and reconstruct themselves psychologically in response to traumatic encounters with wartime technology.


While the social and cultural history of war will be at the center of our methodology, anthropological approaches, gender studies, and film and media studies will also influence our approach to the impact of industrialized war. Interdisciplinary approaches to trauma help us ‘read’ diverse forms of expression and emotions surrounding pain and suffering, as well as experiences with killing.  Because responses to psychological injury are constantly fluctuating, difficult to categorize, and often outside the sphere of medicalized and state control, scholars must find more innovative ways to uncover these narratives of trauma and healing.  Exploring and critically analyzing different methods of inquiry will be a central theme of the course.


Both parts of the course will run two hours a week weekly for fourteen weeks. Class learning elements include mini-lectures, discussions, workshops, and student presentations. This course expects active participation, meaning that you have read the required readings for the week concerned, reflected over them, and come to class primed to discuss them individually and collectively.



Group work; text analysis, discussion of readings and sources, class presentations.

Various online primary and secondary sources

This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.

Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline January 11th 2024
Type of assessment details
* Literature analysis paper, 6-7 pages, deadline in week 47
* Oral presentation sometime during the course with reflection paper, 5-6 pages,
* Essay, 10-12 pages, submitted with the final portfolio
Exam registration requirements

This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.

Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

See schedule
Study board of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator
  • Peter Leese   (5-716a6a786a456d7a7233707a336970)

Jason Crouthamel

Saved on the 30-03-2023

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