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Understanding University – Courses

The module "Understanding University" consists of three components, all closely linked together. If students attend both the lecture and the seminar, they can receive credit for the ABV module "Gender and Diversity". Certainly, it is also possible to attend only one of the courses. We aim at enabling as many students as possible to attend the either the whole module or one of its parts.

1. Lecture cum Seminar

"Understanding University: The Rhetoric(s) of German Academia" (lecture: German; discussion: German, English)

The lecture aims at contextualising academic habitus and its practices both historically and systematically. The lecture focuses on the genealogy of German academia with the aim of fostering a critical discussion of historical conditions and forms, as well as possibilities of diversity. Through the lecture, students will gain insight into the university's structures. Furthermore, the lecture will reflect on questions mostly perceived as individual problem areas - for example, why it is so difficult to ask the first question in a discussion (a problem already discussed in Aristotle's Topics); why presentations and lectures in the humanities are often literally read aloud; in what way structural inequalities are anchored in the university's status groups (in the position of the 'Privatdozent' for example, an invention of the Berlin university); why the humanities are conceived of as "sciences" in Germany and what that means for their rhetorics, etc.

  • Prof. Dr. Anita Traninger
  • Monday, 16–18h
  • Room KL 29 /208
  • Schedule

2. Project-based seminar

"Navigating the University: Formats and Strategies of Academic Discourse" (English / German)

Accompanying the lecture, we offer a seminar focusing on German academia's manifold rhetorics. To better reach the seminar's various target-groups, the seminar will be held both in English (Isabelle Fellner) and in German (Oliver Gent). In close consideration of the students’ needs, the seminar will analyse the foundations of academic rhetorics, both orally and in writing. To do so, the seminar will employ diverse teaching methods while at the same offering training in writing and presentation skills. Moreover, the seminar aspires to demystify the university through a number of innovative formats: round-table talks with lecturers/professors ("look behind the scenes"), excursions (examination offices, research centres, heads of department, etc.), as well as creative exercises in writing and speaking.

Group 1: English

  • Lecturer: Isabelle Fellner
  • Thursdays, 14–16h
  • Room: KL 29/204
  • Schedule

Group 2: German

  • Lecturer: Oliver Gent
  • Fridays, 14–16h
  • Room: KL 29/204
  • Schedule

3. Tutorial

  • Tutor: N. N.
  • Times and location will be announced at the beginning of term.

The student-led tutorial will offer peer group consultations. Students will have the possibility to discuss individual problems and develop their own projects based on the materials studied in the lecture and the seminar. The tutor will be closely involved in developing the module and will thus by familiar with all topics discussed.