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Germany’s ‘1968’: new questions and directions

Karcher, K. and Pilsworth, E. ORCID: (2021) Germany’s ‘1968’: new questions and directions. In: Whittle, R. (ed.) Handbook of German Teaching. Taylor & Francis (Routledge). (In Press)

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There are a number of difficulties encountered when teaching the history of Germany’s ‘1968,’ the first of which is suggested by the single quotation marks placed around the date in our title. Of course, the protest movements of the 1960s cannot be understood with reference to one year alone, or even to only one country. Our chapter will explore ways to teach Germany’s ‘1968’ as a global phenomenon, and one in which a number of previously overlooked groups (e.g. women in particular) were significantly involved, in order to demonstrate the multifaceted nature and effects of the 1960s protest movement from new and broader perspectives. Activists in the so-called ‘anti-authoritarian’ wing of the student movement in West Germany and West Berlin rejected the traditional power structures and called for a global revolution. Now that fifty years have passed since 1968, further difficult questions about what the so-called ‘revolution’ of the 1960s achieved are more pressing than ever. It is important to teach students today exactly how the anti-authoritarian protest movements of the 1960s changed the face of global society and led to profound changes in family life, education, and, of course, global marketing, as well as to explore what was not achieved by the movement. Finally, a particularly uncomfortable aspect of the German ‘1968’ was the protest movement’s confrontation with the legacies of National Socialism, an often violent police force, and an extremely aggressive right-wing press. We explore in our chapter how German media sources from the period can be read critically to illustrate the conflicts of this period, particularly as expressed in the mainstream media. After an overview of the recent research in this field, which expands and complicates the narrative of the previously rather narrow (and gendered) term ‘Studentenbewegung,’ we then provide concrete examples of lesson plans and a creative assessment task that we have used in the classroom with a group of second year students on a course called ‘1968’ in History, Word and Image at The University of Bristol.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > German
ID Code:90640
Publisher:Taylor & Francis (Routledge)

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