Every day when switching on the TV, one is bombarded with topics presented in every possible shape and form, ranging from documentaries, news broadcasts and talk shows to films and soap operas. The latter category represents a very useful source since even established soap operas in Germany and Britain try to take up many of the taboos which still exist in our society. Another source was the printed media, in particular comics and comic books.
To cover the subject of censorship — an inevitable issue and one which is intertwined with almost any taboo — the seminar referred to R. Seim and J. These two books themselves could form the basis of another course along the lines of the one presented in this article, since both volumes are packed with visual material, historical facts and legal arguments.
Siegfried libretto (English/German) - opera by Richard Wagner
Popular music was another pool for material to be looked at in greater detail. Not only have infamous bands such as Boehse Onkelz or Rammstein tackled taboo topics more than once in their songs, but chart toppers such as Pur or Tic Tac Toe have also produced material suitable for analysis and discussion see Chapter 3 below. The latter was especially useful since it is not by its nature prone to sensationalism. Stern TV had a section on child pornography and Internet security, while Auslandsjournal featured a report on self-justice in South Africa. These materials were chosen according to their content and availability; in the case of the soap operas, relevant sequences were edited to enable students to follow a storyline that spanned several weeks.
Many further sources are possible.
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For example, one could add literature such as R. Any medium can be the source of taboo topics. The content of the songs in question will be discussed as well as the method of communicating these to fellow students. In many respects this depends on the materials available and the personal interests, opinions and passions of the students concerned. This case study a student presentation, held in December at Aston University, Birmingham focuses on the area of popular music, a medium whose diverse and constantly evolving nature enables it to be taken as a basis upon which to build a broad examination of the taboos dealt with in this field.
What applies to the Americanised world of MTV and multi-billion-dollar record companies, however, is not necessarily reflected in the German music scene. The situation in Germany often appears to give the artists in question free rein to sing about what they want, as if distancing themselves from the commercial conventions of English-language music gives them this right, and often it is the most famous singers and bands, the big sellers who appear on the front of magazines and on the walls of teenagers around the country, who are the most daring when it comes to approaching so-called taboo subjects in their work.
This background provides an ideal basis for the examination of such music in a German learning framework. The nine songs featured in the presentation at the centre of this case study were all recorded and released within the last ten years and for the most part appeared on highly successful albums; some were big hits in their own right.
Taken in turn, these were as follows:. Their tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a Neo-Nazi as an immature and almost pathetic figure with as many self-hate issues as pieces of Nazi paraphernalia and deep down inside a simple human desire to be loved was unusual among the more serious and directly critical commentaries of the time. But it clearly struck a chord and became a top 10 single.
Rammstein: Spiel mit mir. Their tendency towards simplistic and ambiguous texts has also earned its fair share of criticism, and is illustrated perfectly by Spiel mit mir from the album Sehnsucht.
Pur: Kinder sind tabu. Like Rammstein, Pur can be considered one of the biggest German bands of the last decade. The lyricist also depends to a great extent on emotive adjectives. Without doubt the most obscure song in this presentation, Willi is a simple ballad performed by Hamburg-based singer Rainer Bielfeldt, remembering his experiences with a lover from years gone by.
That Bielfeldt is gay is no secret — the album from which Willi is taken, Nachtzug , features two men embracing on its cover and many of its songs contain references to, or at least influences from, his love life and sexual orientation.
Tic Tac Toe: Warum? German rap music tends to be far less obsessed with violence, drugs and sex than its American counterpart — and blessed with a more intelligent musical and lyrical content as a result.
BUNKERMENSCHEN: Die Legende von Babie DoIy
First coming to widespread attention through their attempt to represent Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest, Knorkator are as renowned for pelting their audience with mincemeat and offal as for their musical pot-pourri of industrial heavy metal and operatic singing. In music, as in cinema as described earlier , it seems that some artists have decided that disgust and revulsion are emotions which can be leveraged to a far greater extent than traditional morals. Music has the advantage of being a universal art form. Although most students involved in a seminar during their final year at university are naturally familiar with German and German culture in general, not everyone can claim to be an expert or a specialist in a particular field.
However, music and the instinctive human reaction to an evocative text in combination with a melody can always be called upon, even regardless of knowledge of any cultural context. Nonetheless, addressing the subjects of taboos in German language music in the form of a presentation to other students does require an element of research and preparation.
This includes not only the compilation of materials and background information on the songs and artists to be presented, but also the devising of a structure for the presentation that will both inform and involve the audience. Other parameters, such as the breadth of subjects and musical styles and the modernity of the material being presented, must also be considered. In the presentation detailed here, such considerations resulted in the following methodology.
As detailed above, a total of six so-called taboo subjects were selected, corresponding to nine songs. The class was introduced to these subjects and the corresponding songs one by one,  then played a one-minute excerpt from a key passage of the song and shown an acetate with the corresponding text and a picture of the artist. The person studying taboos in a light media context must, after all, recognise that the purpose of the media is to reach a certain audience, and the reaction of this audience to what it sees and hears is perhaps even more important than the content transmitted.
Following the presentation of the songs, as described above, a brief reprise of each song was played, then the voting procedure began. The class was asked to vote on two questions, and ideally to also give reasons for their choices.
The questions were phrased as follows: Which song do you feel dealt best with its topic, and which song do you feel dealt worst with its topic? The deliberately vague wording opened up a range of issues in itself — what is good or bad anyway in terms of dealing with taboo subjects?
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At the other end of the scale, there was also a two-horse race for song which presented its taboo in the worst manner, in this case between the two extremes of the musical spectrum featured in the presentation. This more subtle aspect would not necessarily have occurred to some members of the class without the in-depth discussion which arose during the voting, and indeed one student changed her mind as a result of the arguments raised, voting for Pur instead of Rammstein. Although Pur received the largest number of votes for the worst song, it was Spiel mit mir which provoked the most discussion, and those who voted for Rammstein were, as a rule, more passionate about their dislike and distaste for that song than those who voted otherwise.
The lecturer subsequently initiated a more detailed discussion of the Rammstein song, resulting in the observation that some members of the class had previously been unaware that the lyrics were about love, or more, between siblings. And even those who had understood the basic message of the song were at odds over the age, gender, etc. One key issue was whether Rammstein were responsible for glamorising incest. One question arose from this discussion: Can one, and should one be, allowed to write a song about incest or any other so-called taboo subject?
The answer is, of course, that one can write about everything, but the motivation behind the writing of the song and its desired effect are more relevant factors. Most British school pupils learn very little about Nazism or Neo-Nazism. As for homosexuality, the infamous Section 28 is very difficult to get round  , and in most cases just provides a convenient excuse for teachers in the U.
Indeed, sex education in any form is almost exclusively about the physical e. So for most students choosing a seminar such as the one portrayed in this article, it would probably be the first time that they would ever discuss any of these subjects in an academic environment. They may not even have discussed such topics with the people in the seminar room with them, even those who are their friends.
Experience at Aston University has shown that, quite contrary to common expectations, the taboos tackled in the seminar got students and lecturer alike not only to think, but also to talk.
The potential for in-depth discussion and analysis was unleashed by a combination of the following factors:. By first analysing the properties indigenous to a particular media form, one is able to approach the respective subject step by step, dealing with one layer at a time. The authors agree that if a university, or a language course for that matter, is supposed to give the student a basis by which to use their chosen language in a real-life context, learning history, politics and literature is important.
However, it is hard to go beyond facts let alone blurred opinions and actually have feelings about such subjects, whereas in reality one gets into genuinely passionate arguments and discussions about all kinds of things, and the type of seminar proposed in this article can certainly provide many lessons in this. The fact that not everything is black and white might also be taught in many seminars, but what makes one person laugh and another cry may not be brought to light in many of those.
The realisation that even the students themselves often do not know what their own opinions are on a lot of subjects until they are effectively provoked into expressing a viewpoint came as a bit of a surprise to many participants in the seminar. The seminar also helped to give people command over a more diplomatic type of German, thus fine-tuning their communicative skills in the foreign language.
Although the type of seminar and teaching approach portrayed in this article proved to be a huge success see 4. Before embarking on such a project one should consider the following aspects:. Due to the nature of some of the material used, it is imperative that all students have reached the age of consent, or the relevant age limit for viewing censored material.
For example some of the literature used esp. Spiegel contains explicit — and in many cases offensive — material. For legal reasons, access to it should be restricted such as no public display in the library or a special loan system. Despite having been very popular with and appreciated by the students, it was decided that next time it would be offered as a Final Year option, the reason being that the proficiency needed to effectively cope with the subject matter had not yet been reached by the younger students. But in Final Year students have just returned from their year abroad, thus bringing most of the needed language skills with them for exception see the skirting factor in 4.
A vital factor is the form taken by the seminar with regard to university regulations. It should only be offered as an elective. People taking the seminar should do so of their own free will. The topics discussed can bring up emotions students may find extremely difficult to handle, especially when faced with things they have personally encountered in their own lives. It goes without saying that the format chosen for this seminar is challenging, not only for the students but also for the lecturer. It was made a rule that students could leave the seminar room should the atmosphere become too strenuous for them, although this rule was heavily disputed amongst the students themselves on more than one occasion.
The occasions when the lecturer voiced her own opinion and spoke about her own inhibitions proved very constructive. Since this is, however, a very personal and individual matter, it seems only logical that such things should be discussed right from the start, or at the latest when the need for it is perceived as having arisen. As could be seen in the course of this seminar, personal boundaries can change, disappear or surface when least expected. Part of the annual monitoring at the School of LES includes a questionnaire at the end of each module, giving students the opportunity to assess the module on issues such as course content, teaching method, etc.
For the seminar presented here, however, a three-step system was adopted. A first questionnaire was administered half way through the semester to ensure that critical points could be taken up and the seminar improved to the benefit of all whilst it was still in progress. Blog Press Information Linguee Apps. Federball m. Braut f [colloq. Tussi f [colloq. Zinken m [colloq. Rostrum nt zoology.