GER-E322 Course Description
Berlin is a symbol—a swastika, Stalin’s smile, a television tower—and it is a historical hub where people gather for the sake of commerce, power, love, and culture. It is an archeological site of tragic, criminal, revolutionary, and mistaken cities, a building site of comic, cool, prudent, and exuberant cities, and an imaginary city of espionage, decadence, cosmopolitanism and solidarity. During the semester we will try to plumb the bewildering layers of Berlin by asking one persistent question of different times and representations: what did chance feel like in Berlin? What did it mean to take a chance in the traffic of Berlin in the 1920s, what did in mean to take a chance in art and architecture? What did it mean to take a chance on political revolution? What chance did one take when one committed to an idea… or a prejudice? What did it feel like to risk trusting a stranger, a friend, or a lover during the Weimar Republic, Third Reich, or Cold War? Was it a risk to reunify Germany with Berlin as its capital—and who took it? What chances do people take living in Berlin’s global economy today? What chances does a refugee or a wanderer face? To answer our guiding question we will consider representations of uncertainty, risk, and novelty (and their opposites: identity, security, normality, predictability) over the last hundred years of ever-surprising Berlin.
Jana Hensel, After the Wall: Confessions from an East German Childhood (Public Affairs) ISBN-13: 978-1586485597
Philip Kerr, March Violets: A Bernie Gunther Novel (Penguin) ISBN-13: 978-0142004142
Irmgard Keun, The Artificial Silk Girl (The Other Press) ISBN-13: 978-1590514542
John le Carré, Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Penguin) ISBN-13: 978-0143121428
Christa Wolf, They Divided the Sky (University of Ottawa Press) ISBN-13: 978-0776607870