Aston academic discussesTrumponomics

Earlier this month, Dr Stefan Manz was a guest on Radio Sputnik where he explained how US president Donald Trump’s unpopularity in Germany and his threat to impose import tariffs on German cars could have negative consequences not just for the German economy, but for the US as well.

Click here to read a write-up and hear the audio clip of the conversation.

Review of “Futur II” by Gruppe Ja, Panik


Uwe Schütte has contributed an extensive review of the literary debut of Berlin band Ja, Panik to the magazine Volltext. Their singer and songwriter, Andreas Spechtl, was DAAD Songwriter in Residence at Aston in 2015. Futur II commemorates the tenth anniversary of the band. You can read the review by Uwe here. Ja, Panik have also released a new song called Futur II to accompany the album – watch the video here.

“Mal ordinär / mal neureich nobel / hängt man so ab / zwischen unten und oben”

German Pop Music. A Companion

Out now is a new book by our colleague Uwe Schütte. He has edited a collection of essays on major musical styles and bands in the history of German pop music. The contributors comprise a range of international experts on popular music from across Germany, the UK and the US.

The volume is chronologically structured: following the introduction by Uwe, it starts with a chapter on German Schlager, followed by chapters on Krautrock, German Punk, German Industrial, Techno and Rap. There is also a chapter dedicated to Kraftwerk, written by Uwe.


The survey is concluded by an interview with Diedrich  Diederichsen, the leading scholar in the field who has recently published his major study Über Pop-Musik. For more info see the publisher’s website here or order the book, reasonably priced at £18,71 from Amazon or any other online retailer.

Read an illustrated excerpt from Uwe’s chapter on Kraftwerk on the CUEPOINT music blog.

Christmas in England & Germany – a short comparison

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Six more sleeps until Christmas. Or wait, seven more sleeps here in England. Whilst Christmas Day (December 25th) seems to be the most important date in England, Christmas Eve (December 24th) is the date most children in Germany are looking forward to.

Let’s have a look at some other (probably not so widely known) differences:

  1. Christmas Cards are a thing in England! I found out about this one the hard way – receiving Christmas Cards from almost everyone – colleagues, students, friends … and not having written a single card myself. Usually Germans only give cards to their closest family members and friends on Christmas Eve, but here in England you write them to what feels like every single person you know!
  2. Turkey seems to be the number one Christmas dinner in England. In Germany, however, there is no traditional Christmas meal and everyone enjoys the food they like.
  3. Germany doesn’t have Christmas Crackers – at least not for Christmas. This seems more like a New Year’s Eve activity.
  4. English shops are open on Boxing day. The 26th is a national holiday in Germany, so good luck finding an open shop that day.
  5. Finally, something that belongs to Christmas for me personally – The Darts World Championship in London. Darts is huge in England, well, that’s what German TV commentators tell you. In reality, however, I still have to find a single person who’s into Darts!

There are many more differences between Christmas in England and Germany, feel free to add them in the comment section below!

WDR podcast on WG Sebald

WDR has just published a podcast on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the death of German writer and academic WG Sebald, who is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. The podcast looks back on the life and works of Sebald who emigrated to England at the age of 22. The podcast also includes contributions by Aston’s expert on WG Sebald – Dr Uwe Schütte.

You can listen to the podcast (in German) here.

New book on WG Sebald edited by Uwe Schütte


Our Sebald expert Uwe Schütte has just published an edited volume on Sebald that contains chapters in both German and English. The aim of the book is to provide a counterweight to the dominant strands in Sebald criticism by excluding over-researched topics like the novel Austerlitz and themes such as melancholia, Holocaust and memory.

Instead, the volume explores unpublished texts (such as Sebald’s early novel and his film script on the life and death of Immanuel Kant), revisits the critical discussions initiated by his polemical writings on Alfred Döblin and Alfred Andersch, and explores the Luftkrieg und Literatur debate. Another focus of the volume is philological groundwork, as it were, to establish the biographical and factual background to Sebald’s writings on his native region, the Allgäu, and to his prose volume Schwindel. Gefühle.

In addition to addressing often overlooked or ignored aspects of his writings, the specific approach of the volume was to include contributions from post-docs, Auslandsgermanisten and private scholars in an attempt to break free from the often tautological critical debates taking place within German academia.

You can find more information on the volume here, and can download a flyer here.

Writer in Residence Ulrich Peltzer

German at Aston is proud to be hosting critically acclaimed writer Ulrich Peltzer as part of the German Academic Exchange Service’s (DAAD) Writer in Residence programme. Peltzer is with us from 28 Nov until 8 Dec.
During his time at Aston, the author will read from his latest novel Das bessere Leben. He will also give a research seminar on “Political Writing Today: Film and Prose”, where he will discuss his novels and his film scripts for some of Berlin School director Christoph Hochhäusler’s films with Prof Julian Preece from Swansea University.
On 7 Dec, Peltzer will appear at Birmingham’s Waterstones bookshop to discuss his break-through novel Teil der Lösung (Part of the Solution) and his experience as an author living and writing in Berlin.

Ulrich Peltzer and Uwe Schütte

New Teaching Assistants at the German Department

Hey there!

We are Ben and Martin, the new teaching assistants for German at Aston University and would like to introduce ourselves to everyone.

I`m Ben, 23, from a small town in the Ruhr Area. I am studying for a Bachelor of Education with the subjects German, Maths and English for primary school teaching and I am about to finish my degree. I like reading, sports (ice hockey, football, darts) and hiking. I am looking forward to travelling GB, getting to know new people and learning about British culture.

I`m Martin, I am 21 years old and I come from Paderborn. I’m in my fifth semester, with the subjects English and History in order to become a teacher. I am a huge sports fan and try to stay fit by doing sports myself. Moreover I like reading and travelling around. I hope to learn as much as possible about the English language and culture during my time here at Aston!

We will be giving oral and aural skills sessions and drop-in clinics (Mo 10-12, Fr 9-11) at Aston University and are looking forward to meeting all of you there. So if you have any questions regarding grammar, your homework or if you are just interested in having a conversation in German, please come see us in N807.


We look forward to seeing you all,

Ben and Martin