Coming to terms with the tumultuous 20th century – the Nazi Era, the Holocaust, and division of Germany - is central to German literature, culture, and public debate. Just as narratives of memory drive 20th and 21st-century German literature, memory culture permeates the urban landscape of Berlin. This course explores memory narratives in the form of fiction, autobiographical texts, films, a graphic novel, and a historical reader. Topics of discussion include history, politics, literature, film, music, architecture, and the urban landscape. Field trips to the German Historical Museum, the Holocaust Memorial, The Berlin Wall Memorial, the Stasi Museum, the Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen, and more will inform, reinforce, and broaden our understanding of the material discussed in class.
The course is open to all students who are interested in deepening their experience of Berlin’s history and culture through this topical exploration of the city. No prior knowledge is required. Students must be willing to participate actively in class discussions and field trips to museums and other sites around the city. Attendance is crucial; no unexcused absences.
Minimum language proficiency of B2 in English is required. No German is required for this course. All readings, course materials, and discussions will be in English.
For successful completion of the course, students must (1) thoroughly read and view the assigned materials in preparation for class; (2) attend the course and participate actively in class discussions and field trips; (3) write three two-page essays; (4) take a final exam in form of a take-home essay; and (5) expand their exploration of Berlin’s memory culture with a research presentation on a topic of choice.
A reader provided at orientation will contain excerpts from various additional texts. Films will be made available for viewing.