Writers in and around Berlin: Reflections on Currently Discussed Books

Berlin has always been a great source of inspiration for arts and literature, especially for novels. How are the changes of the recent years reflected in current books by contemporary authors? In this course, we will follow some of them on their paths through the city and its surroundings,  trying to sense their concepts of identity – as inspiration for ourselves.

Course periodJuly 25, 2022 - Aug. 19, 2022 Session II
Category Language, Literature & Creative Writing
Course levelsBachelor, Master, Ph.D.
Class size

max. 10 participants

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 May 15, 2022, or when participant quota is reached This course is fully booked.
Course fee730.00 Euro | (excl. program fee and discounts)


Today, as in past centuries, the city of Berlin is a special attraction for creative artists and is also in the focus of various novels.

Being in the center of diversity and migration, facing the consequences of the countries` division and the Third Reich, social hardship and anonymous city life – all these factors lead straight to questions about identity and the meaningful design of "feeling connected“ - a self-determined as well as sustainable way of life.

More and more often, authors also reflect the current trend of retreating to the countryside in order to escape the superficial structures that are prevailing at work and in everyday life. Thus, Berlin should also be considered in relation to its surroundings, used as a counter-image. But how effective does this turn out to be?

The analysis traces both the psychological processes and the desire for a turning point in our society. Biographical and historical backgrounds, the reception of newer books and references to classical works of literature play a central role.


Syllabus (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 Ph.D. candidates) and professionals with an interest in creative writing (German language), culture, literature, and the city of 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 their 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 and Academic and Creative Writing in several different programs at Humboldt University. She is also offering Creative Writing classes in various companies company. For many years she worked as an auditor at Goethe Institut, focusing on the GDS exam (Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom, C2).

She was born in Berlin and has spent most of her life in the city, being able to compare the particular characteristics of the Berlin and its inhabitants with other parts of Germany (North, West and South), all of them also having been her residence for several years. As a result, she has become a “defender” of the Berlin accent and communication style, often mocked, and always tries to involve some of the features and background stories into her lessons.      

Building on her university degree in German Studies/Comparative Literature, her qualification as an Intercultural Trainer and her experience as a translator, reviewer and author of radio programs on cultural issues, she is not only specialized in the field of literature, films and writing, but also particularly interested in the many possibilities of changing perspectives and the challenges implied when transferring words and meanings from one language to another. Her strong interest in psychological processes and relevant trainings add to her focussing on biographical, historical and literary interactions and the role that writing can have in people's lives.
CoordinatorPierre Steuer/ Carmen Opolski/ Sanja Müssig
Contact detailsInternational Department
Unter den Linden 6
10999 Berlin


This course can be combined with: