INSIGHTS (Interdisciplinary Studies in German History, Tradition and Society) – formerly WELP (Würzburg English Language Programme) – is a programme that offers courses about Germany in English and Chinese. The programme is designed for students from all countries and disciplines who wish to improve their intercultural skills and gain a better understanding of Germany. The duration of each course is ten weeks (winter term: mid-October to mid-December, summer term: mid-May to mid-July). Students receive 3 ECTS for each course.
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The stylistic period between Renaissance and Neoclassicism is called Baroque and lasted from 1575 to 1770. In art history this era is divided in Early Baroque (ca. 1600-1650), High Baroque (ca. 1650-1720) and Late Baroque or Rococo (ca. 1720-1770). Baroque art can be defined as the typical kind of artistic development in the period of Absolutism and Catholic (Counter-)Reform which started its existence in Italy and, then, spread first over the catholic countries of Europe before finally establishing itself in a modified way in protestant regions, too. Thus, still today we find many examples of baroque art in Würzburg, its vicinity and all of southern Germany – a situation, which provides the best opportunities to become acquainted with this style during one’s studies at Würzburg University. The most important tasks architects, painters and sculptors had to fulfil in that epoch were to explain the christian belief to the faithful and allow them, with their artistic means, a first “glimpse into heaven” or, on the other side, to express and emphasise the power and importancce of the absolute princes. In consequence the artists had to build and decorate a plethora of beautiful churches and sumptuous palaces, they also had to project huge symmetrical gardens and to design new geometrical plannings for cities recently founded to glorify the princes. As the greatest achievement of this period might be mentionned its trial to unify the three main branches of fine art – architecture, painting and scultpure – in order to create a unity of the genres. This very impressive fact – called “Gesamtkunstwerk” – evoques a complexity in art that has never been achieved before or after that era. In many cases a kind of melting procedure happens between the artistic branches bringing illusion, imagination and reality to a close contextual situation which is often breathtaking. The projected lecture will exemplify baroque art in all its periodical subdivisions as well as in architecture, painting and sculpture using the vast repertory provided in southern Germany. Thus architects like Balthasar Neumann (1687-1753), Johann Dientzenhofer (1665-1726) and Dominikus Zimmermann (1685-1766), painters like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770), Cosmas Damian Asam (1686-1739) and Johannes Zick (1702-1762) or sculptors like Balthasar Permoser (1651-1732), Ignaz Günther (1725-1775) and Egid Quirin Asam (1692-1750) with all their masterpieces will be in the focus of our interest.
Lecturer: Dr. Peter A. Süß
"True Crime" is becoming increasingly popular. The genre owes its rise in particular to the media coverage, but in doing so, the latter has perhaps also struck a nerve with recipients. On the one hand, the seminar will thus focus on the legal historical development in Germany, but on the other hand, it will also discuss spectacular legal cases. In this way, participants will gain an insight into the German legal and media system. On this journey through such cultures of memory in Germany, the participants will encounter, for example, the "Vampire of Düsseldorf" and assess for themselves whether they would have convicted someone or not. To successfully complete the course, participants will present and write up a well-known case from their home country (optionally a different country).
In the last decades and in the course of worldwide cultural but also economic linking-up, events like Halloween or Valentine’s Day arrived in Germany and Europe. Formally, those originally American festivities were not known in Germany and the rest of Europe. However, this does not mean that these countries did not have their own customs and traditions. Actually, each of them looks back on a huge amount of different local, regional and even nationwide customs for any kind of event: practices for annually repeating feasts like Christmas and Easter or saints’ days, e.g. processions or parish fairs, as well as modes for special and individual festivities as weddings, baptisms and funerals. Furthermore, customs and traditions are still instrumentalised and interpreted for political and economic purposes today. With this in mind, it is also worthwhile to look at the way customs have changed in the recent past. The course will give an overview over different German regions and their churchly and worldly customs as well as a pass through the ecclesiastical year with its most important rites and traditions. It can help students from abroad, but also students from different German regions to understand the different practices they might see during their stay in Germany and maybe even participate in them to experience centuries-old traditions in different locations.
Lecturer: Luise Stark M.A.
The protection of the most important human cultural achievements and natural phenomena is a responsibility for the international community as their disappearance would be an irreplaceable loss for humanity as a whole. Thus, the protection of unique objects like the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the archaeological site of Olympia in Greece, Ayers Rock or the Grand Canyon is the aim of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) of 1972. UNESCO’s World Heritage List, which has been growing steadily over the last fourty years, is considered by many to be the first example of a modern international cultural policy. Here, as a basic principle, cultures have equal rights. Meanwhile 1.121 cultural and natural sites from 167 states are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
To date, 46 German sites have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Buildings, urban areas and archaeological sites, monuments to industrial history and cultural landscapes in Germany have become part of the world cultural heritage. World natural heritage covers important ecosystems, testaments to evolutionary history, natural paradises and protected reserves for animals and plants. As UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places of cultural encounter and understanding between peoples they provide the opportunity to enhance the knowledge about oneself by exploring one’s own and other cultures.
Therefore the lecture wants to inform the students about the different German sites and their outstanding importance. In particular we shall have to deal with the following objects: Aachen Cathedral (World Heritage site since 1978), Speyer Cathedral (1981), Würzburg Residence with the Court Gardens and Residence Square (1981), Pilgrimage Church of Wies (1983), Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl (1984), St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim (1985), Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier (1986), Hanseatic City of Lübeck (1987), Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (1990), Abbey of Lorsch (1991), Mines of Rammelsberg and Historic Town of Goslar (1992), Town of Bamberg (1993), Maulbronn Monastery Complex (1993), Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg (1994), Völklingen Ironworks (1994), Messel Pit Fossil Site (1995), Cologne Cathedral (1996), Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau (1996), Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg (1996), Classical Weimar (1998), Wartburg Castle (1999), Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin (1999), Garden Realm of Dessau-Wörlitz (2000), Monastic Island of Reichenau (2000), Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen (2001), Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar (2002), Upper Middle Rhine Valley (2002), Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen (2004), Muskauer Park / Park Muzakowski (2004), Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Upper German-Raetian Limes (2005), Old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof (2006), Housing Estates in the Berlin Modern Style (2008), The Wadden Sea (2009), Ancient Beech Forests of Germany (2011), Fagus Factory in Alfeld (2011), Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (2011), etc.
Lecturer: Dr. Peter A. Süß
This lecture will take the students on an interesting and informative trip through the German parliamentary history and the structure and functions of the German parliament, the “Bundestag”. It will furthermore show you round its most symbolic edifice, the “Reichstag” building. So the intention is to give the students the opportunity to learn about the development of parliamentarism in Germany through the last two hundred years as well as about the procedures and tasks of the German “Bundestag” today. We will also take a tour of its buildings, and undoubtedly discover a few surprises about Parliament of which most people were previously unaware, such as its remarkable art collection. The students will gain insights into the parliamentarians’ working week and how they negotiate the various, and occasionally arduous, stages in the passage of legislation.
The glass dome of the “Reichstag” Building, designed by British architect Norman Foster at the “Bundestag’s” specific request, has not only rapidly become the new emblem of Berlin. It is also a tangible symbol of parliamentary reform, of greater transparency and openness. Norman Foster’s renovation now shows, in terms of both outer appearance and interior design, the extent of the transformation in Parliament’s self-image. When the “Reichstag” was built, at the time of the German Empire, the seat of Parliament had to be as imposing as possible to allow the young Parliament to demonstrate its self-confidence with regard to the Imperial Palace, the seat of the monarchy. Today, the renovated “Reichstag” exudes confidence with a note of self-irony; it is a building fittingly characterised by dramatic openings, clear perspectives and transparent structures – which phenomena are the signature features of contemporary parliamentary life in a modern democracy of the 21st century, too.
Lecturer: Dr. Peter A. Süß
What food is typically German? Everybody could name some traditional dishes like Sauerkraut, sausages, pretzels or Schweinebraten. But why are these dishes the traditional dishes of Germany? How and when were they created? And does really every German eat them? In this course, we will follow the history of German food. Our journey will start with the first inhabitants of the country we call Germany today and will follow the food through the markets of the Middle Ages to our supermarkets today. The German cuisine is rich in regional variations, which are not only due to geographical and climatic reasons but also influenced by the special German history. Besides the history of some German dishes and typical ingredients, you will also learn a good bit about German’s history and its (food-)culture. This course will also take a look at the ways food is prepared and how and when food is eaten in Germany.
Lecturer: Dr. Christina Schäfer
For understanding Germany in its contemporary state, the topic of Christian religion must not be skipped. As one of the key places of doctrinal and institutional debates within Christianity, Germany plays a prominent role in Church history; in consequence, this role did not only change the Church but Germany as well.
We look at key topics of Christianity that have a lasting influence on Germany as a European state, such as the Church as a social body, the sacramental matter of public Church service, the doctrine of original sin, the value of good deeds, and the relation of the Church to Judaism.
In our course, we will not only look into central passages of Christian doctrine; further, we will visit specific places in Würzburg that share a close connection to Church history.
Lecturer: Dr. Florian Klug