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Land and City: Writers in and around Berlin

Berlin is a great inspiration for novels, music, theatre, fine arts, and more! In the 20th century, it was also a home and inspiration for many great writers. In this course, we will follow some of them on their path through the city and its surroundings, and we will explore the city on our own for the stories we will write.

Course periodJuly 20, 2020 - Aug. 14, 2020 Session II
Category Language, Literature & Creative 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, 2020, 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 surroundings 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 retreat that led 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 read excerpts from contemporary texts and visit places that have been inspiration to writers. We follow Theodor Fontane to the past, visit Bertolt Brecht in his authentically maintained apartment and in his country retreat, a place for contemplation.

In this course we will be reading and writing, discussing, looking around, walking and going out: various field trips, e.g. to Buckow, located about two hours from the city, a visit to a theatre and some movie clips will show the relation between texts, style and atmosphere.


Course Program (pdf)

Course structure

Academic lessons

  • You will receive a total of 45 contact hours (one contact hour equals 45 minutes; 11 contact 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 about one page in German
Student Profile

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

The course is designed for everybody who is interested in literature, creative writing (German language)and exploring Berlin as well as its surroundings.

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

For participants who are learning German and for whom German is not the first language, a language level B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is required for the understanding of the texts and the discussions in class. A language level of C1 or C2 is recommended.

Mistakes in own texts are corrected but not discussed in class. They do not have any effect on the overall assessment of the participant’s performance. Of course, native speakers are also welcome.

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 implied when transferring from one language to another.

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


This course can be combined with: