The course provides a historical, political and cultural introduction to one of the most multifaceted cities of recent times. Like very few other metropolises, Berlin has witnessed some of the major upheavals of the last century: the short-lived attempt at democracy during the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, the fascist Third Reich in the 1930s and 1940s, the division of Berlin into (capitalist) “West” and (socialist) “East” from the late 1940s to the late 1980s, and the reunification of Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Since the end of the Iron Curtain various campaigns have proclaimed “das neue Berlin” – the new Berlin. At the same time, the public discussion about how to commemorate the history of Berlin – and of Germany at large – has not stopped. The Memorial Museum of German Resistance, the Gedächtniskirche, the Topography of Terror exhibition and the Museum at Checkpoint Charlie, for example, all predate the fall of the Wall, but the Jewish Museum, the Holocaust memorial, and the National Historical Museum were only built after 1989. Also, some historic districts of Berlin – such as Hackesche Höfe in Berlin-Mitte – were rediscovered and cautiously remodeled in the 1990s, while a desolate area such as Potsdamer Platz was turned into an architectural showcase of Berlin’s new corporate power.
This course will examine some of the major public controversies and arguments that accompanied the planning and construction of some of the mentioned memorials, museums, and sites. As the public debate over the design of the “Freedom Tower” on the former site of the World Trade Center in New York City has amply demonstrated in recent years, the relationship between place and memory is also a major issue in contemporary American political culture. What better place than Berlin to investigate the complex interconnections between politics, history, personal memory, public remembrance, the commemoration of the past and the celebration of the present?
This course will investigate how the “new Berlin” relates to the history of the “old Berlin.” Each week of the summer session will be dedicated to a different era in Berlin’s recent history: Weimar Republic, Third Reich, West Berlin, East Berlin, and the Berlin Republic.
The syllabus for each week follows the same pattern: an introduction to each week’s historical period, a discussion of literary texts from that era, and the screening and discussion of a film (on video/DVD) relating to that period on Monday, followed by a discussion of significant “places of memory” from that period and a half-day excursion to the discussed places of memory on Thursday.
Students in following fields may be interested in taking this course: German studies, theatre studies, art, architecture, urban studies, cultural studies, modern history, and political science
Students are required to give three 10-minute presentations introducing theassigned readings or films to be discussed in the respective course session. They are also expected to submit 2-3 page typed versions of each presentation. (6-9 pages in total).
Five weekly 2-3 page journals should document the students’ reflections on discussed readings and films, visited sites and, particularly, their experiences in Berlin outside of the course context. The journals are due at the beginning of every Monday class. (10-15 pages in total).
For the final project, the students are expected to interview two Berlin residents about their experience of one of the historical eras discussed in class. This project can be presented in class – and submitted to the instructor – in different formats: as a research paper, as a literary text, as a video or audio documentation, as a visual essay combining text and photography, as a performance piece, etc.
A course reader will be provided at the first course meeting.
This course is an acting course that introduces the student to the research, writing and performance techniques of cabaret performers.
Kabarett is the German word for "cabaret" but has two different meanings. The first meaning is the same as in English; describing a form of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theater (often the word "Cabaret" is used in German for this as well to distinguish this form). The latter describes a kind of political satire. Unlike comedians who make fun of all kind of things, Kabarett artists (German: Kabarettisten) pride themselves as dedicated almost completely to political and social topics of more serious nature which they criticize using techniques like cynicism, sarcasm and irony.
As Peter Jelavich stated in his book “Berlin Cabaret (Studies in Cultural History)” that every Metropolis tends to generate an urban mythology and Berlin is no exception. One of the more enduring Fables associated with that city is that it was hotbed for Cabaret.
Students will be seeking to assay that tale by examining Cabaret in Europe and specifically in Berlin from 1901-1944 while creating their own solo performance based on research of sources as such diaries, letters, memoirs, and autobiographies that relate Berlin Kabarett. Subjects can be figures such as Gisela May, Trude Hestberg, Anita Berber, Claire Waldoff, Erwin Piscator, Hugo Ball, Blandine Ebinger, Kurt Weill and are of particular interest to the student.
While studying and analyzing the techniques of a wide variety of cabaret performers through its inception, students will explore aspects of writing monologues and implementing those techniques with the ultimate goal of creating and performing their own material -sense of truth- with the courage necessary to stand-alone on stage.
There will be field trips to notable Cabaret/Kabarett shows and venues in the city, which will inspire us visually. In addition to history related readings assignments, the course will incorporate Lisa Appignanesi's "The Cabaret" book for an overall understanding of the forms of artistic cabaret which were to emerge as a meeting place for artists where performance or improvisation takes place among peers, and cabaret as an intimate, small-scale, but intellectually ambitious revue.
The class meets twice a week for three 90-minute segments each day.
The two segments of each class typically involve short lectures on historical and theatrical topics as well as seminar-style discussions of the assigned readings. Some class days devote time to in-depth acting exercises, analyzing the solo performance/cabaret vocabulary and technique. Some class days we will use the afternoon segment for film screenings, excursions to sites in the city or working on your final presentation.
In addition to the regular class meetings and excursions the Course Schedule includes a list of optional recommended cabaret shows, plays, theatrical performances.
This course is open to students from all disciplines and levels, though it may appeal most to students of writing, literature, media, history and acting.
One Book "The Cabaret" by Lisa Appignanesi, and course reader will be provided to each student to cover all the required readings for this course. Please be prepared to discuss the readings in class. Active and enthusiastic participation is required.
The course schedule in the syllabus indicates discussion topics for each class meetings (morning, mid-day, and afternoon sessions) and required readings (marked **) to be completed before that class meeting day.