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Land and City: Writers in and around Berlin

Berlin is a great inspiration for novels, music, theatre, fine arts,…! It also has been a home and inspiration for many writers of the 20th century. We follow some of them on their ways through the city and its surrounding and explore the city on our own for the stories we write…

Course periodJuly 22, 2019 - Aug. 16, 2019 Session II
Category Language, Literature & Writing
Course levelsBachelor
Class size

max. 15 participants in class

Credits and certificate

Participants will receive 5 ECTS credit points and a certificate if they attend regularly (at least 80% attendance) and participate actively. Additionally, six weeks after the end of the course a Transcript of Records is issued by Humboldt-University.

Application deadline June 1, 2019, or when participant quota is reached
Course fee680.00 Euro | (excl. program fee and discounts)


Berlin is a vibrant city - and has always been. The City and its surrounding have always attracted and influenced artists. The "Golden Twenties and Thirties" of the 20th Century are legendary - not only the city provided inspiration and material for novels, music, theatre and fine arts, but also all the places of refuge that brought from the external hectic pace to inner reflection.

The course is concerned with several writers, whose lives and work are closely connected to Berlin and the escape to the idylls of small towns. How did this contrast impact their writing process? What can we learn by that for our own creative processes?

We follow Theodor Fontane to Mark Brandeburg, where he has gone on hikes, where his character Effi Briest has played on her swing and where the lake Stechlin is sparkling in the sun. We visit Bertolt Brecht in his authentically maintained apartment and in his country retreat where he has been enjoying swimming in the lake. The satirist Kurt Tucholsky has been attracted by the nature as well: he wrote a simple story about the city Rheinsberg, where he is honored by a museum in the castle.

In this course we read and write, discuss, look around, walk and go out: various field trips in and around Berlin, a visit of a theatre and some movies will show the relation of texts, style and atmosphere.

At the end you'll be able to feel the different moods that had initiated the different texts. You'll also know the variety of the city as well as the contrast of Berlin and its surrounding, so that you can draw conclusions about the current situation for artists which is similar to the situation at that time.

You'll feel these atmospheres and - following the discussed examples - you yourself will try out how to assimilate them  by writing.

The active acquisition of language and its use, but also the motivation to produce own texts is developed in this course.


course program (PDF)

Course structure

Academic lessons

  • You will receive a total of 45 hours (one lesson equals 45 minutes; 11 hours per week).
  • The lessons are held three times a week.
  • Lessons will comprise lectures, group work, discussion sessions, excursions.


Schedule (Track B)

Monday: 9 am – 10.30 am & 11 am – 12.30 pm
Wednesday: 9 am – 10.30 am & 11 am – 12.30 pm
Thursday: 1.30 pm – 3 pm & 3.30 pm – 4.15 pm


Cultural extra-curricular activities:

HUWISU offers a fine selection of interesting extra-curricular activities and aims to give all participants an unforgettable stay in Berlin. Your program includes excursions, sport activities and social gatherings providing you the opportunity to get to know the city, the university and your classmates better and to meet students from all parts of the world. The costs for these offers are included in the course fees.

Activities and tours we offer regularly: Federal Chancellery, German Parliament, House of Representatives, Topography of Terror, Political Archive, Museum Island, Kreuzberg Tour, Daytrip to Potsdam, Boat trip, Beach Volleyball, Exhibitions, Farewell Party…

Language skills German: B2 - proof will be required
Motivation Letter German
Student Profile

Students of all subjects (Undergraduate, Graduate and PhD-Candidates) with an interest in creative writing (German language), culture and literature.

Participants in this course should share an inherent interest in the topic and life in Berlin, as well as a willingness to explore their own expressiveness and joy in playing with the German language.

This course is designed for native speakers and Non-native speakers. Non-native speakers are required to prove at least level B2 of language proficiency.

Mistakes made in written works will be corrected but will not be discussed as part of the course syllabus nor be included in the overall assessment of the participant's performance.

Texts for preparation or for background knowledge can also be read in English or in any other language. Texts dealt with during class are discussed on the basis of the original - in German.

The minimum age requirement is 18 years.

Ms. Renate Graßtat

Renate Graßtat, M. A., is currently teaching German as a Foreign Language, Academic and Creative Writing in several different programs at Humboldt University as well as at other universities. Further, she is working as an examiner at Goethe Institute.

She has been teaching German for many years on all levels. Building on her university degree in German Studies/ Comparative Literature, her qualification as Intercultural Trainer and on her experience as an author of radio programs on cultural issues and an interpreter of various texts, she is also specialized in the field of literature, films and writing in a foreign language.  She is particularly interested in the many possibilities of changing perspectives and the challenges of transferring from one language to another.

CoordinatorPierre Steuer/ Carmen Opolski/ Sanja Müssig
Contact detailsInternational Office
Unter den Linden 6
10999 Berlin


This course can be combined with: