This course gives a wide overview of the development of public and private architecture in Berlin during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Following an introduction to the urban development and architectural history of the Modern era, the Neo-Classical period will be surveyed with special reference to the works of Schinkel. This will be followed by classes on architecture of the German Reich after 1871, which was characterized by both modern and conservative tendencies and the manifold activities during the time of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s such as the Housing Revolution. The architecture of the Nazi period will be examined, followed by the developments in East and West Berlin after the Second World War. The course concludes with a detailed review of the city’s more recent and current architectural profiles, including an analysis of the conflicts concerning the re-design of Berlin after the Cold War and the German reunification.
Seven walking tours to historically significant buildings and sites are included (Unter den Linden, Gendarmenmarkt, New Housing Estates, Chancellory, Potsdamer Platz, Holocaust Memorial etc.). The course aims to offer a deeper understanding of the interdependence of Berlin’s architecture and the city’s social and political structures. It considers Berlin as a model for the highways and by-ways of a European capital in modern times.
The course addresses students of any subject, especially History of Art, Architecture and related subjects, such as History, Design or Fine Arts. An elementary knowledge of architecture and architectural history is welcome but not necessary. More advanced students or those interested in a particular field can - on request - be given special assistance and further material for self-study.
Regular and active participation, Midterm exam, Final exam
A course reader will be provided.
The ‘thousand year Reich’ that Hitler promised when he became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933 lasted but 12 years. During this time, however, Hitler and his Nazi Party came to dominate European and even world affairs, terrorizing vast numbers of Germans, launching a devastating war, and orchestrating the murder of more than five million Jews. Yet Hitler and the Nazi Party gained the active support and involvement of most Germans. How was this possible?
This class focuses on Hitler’s Germany and it begins with the essential 19th century background. How did political anti-Semitism grow there? What shaped the social and political life? Central to this session will be a discussion of the broad political currents and the popular literature that Hitler and many of his supporters read and absorbed.
Crucial to understanding the lure of Hitler and the Nazi Party was Germany’s experience in the First World War, a conflict that decimated a generation and destroyed Europe as it was known. Germany became a democratic state, but was torn by political divisions and dissatisfaction. In this climate of uncertainty and despair, Hitler and the Nazi Party grew from a small group on the radical fringe in Munich to a national force. How did this happen? Those traits of Hitler crucial to his success, particularly his charisma, will be defined and analyzed within the broader political context of Weimar political life.
In late January 1933 Hitler gained the long desired but elusive goal: he became chancellor of Germany, the leader of a coalition government. Much attention will be paid to how Hitler, the two other Nazis in his cabinet, and supporters on the streets were able to consolidate the control over the state and society within a matter of months. This came at the cost of political liberties, through the growing use of terror, oppression, and intimidation. Yet, Hitler gained supporters as he seemingly offered economic stability and a new unity to the German people. How the regime solidified its control over society and political life will be examined and discussed at length in this session.
A key element of Hitler’s rule was the concentration camp system, what came to be a vast chain of prisons and centers of oppression and death. How this developed will be examined and analyzed.
Hitler’s ambitions, the conquest of ‘living space’ in Eastern Europe and the annihilation of the Jews, motivated his foreign ambitions and led directly to World War II, the most destructive conflict in human history. A central element of the war was the Holocaust, the all-out program to destroy the Jews of Europe. The session will examine closely these developments, the nature of the war, how the Holocaust was implemented, and the role that terror played in sustaining Nazi rule. We will also discuss the measures taken against the handicapped, homosexuals, Sinti and Roma.
In Germany and later in occupied Europe opposition and resistance emerged and challenged Nazi rule. Opponents were motivated by a variety of reasons, some personal, some political, and these too will be discussed.
Lastly, the class will examine the end of the war, the so-called ‘zero hour’ in Germany, the destruction and collapse of Germany, and then how this nation has dealt with the legacy of Hitler and Nazi rule.
We will be visiting local museums, historical sites and locations that reveal the operations of Nazi rule. These visits are a key element of the class and the experience of studying in Berlin.
We welcome students from all disciplines who are interested in gaining an insight into the operations and dynamics of Nazi rule in Germany, its attempt to annihilate the Jews and to dominate the continent.
Interest and curiosity
Attendance in class, the careful reading of the assigned course materials, participation in the field trips, the discussion of the material in class, the completion of two short research papers (2-4 pages), and the final examination. Guidelines for the papers as well as suggested topics will be provided during the first session.
A course reader will be provided at the first meeting of the class. This includes a recent monograph on Nazi Germany, a selection of articles offering the newest research and insights, excerpts from original documents (in translation), a weekly schedule of the readings and a series of questions as a guide through each of the texts.
This course explores theoretical and historical perspectives on the intersection of law, society and politics, and aims to foster discussion of contemporary issues among students from different cultures and disciplines. After an introduction to comparative law and legal culture, we read some classical social theorists (Durkheim, Weber and Marx), and consider their relevance to contemporary debates about morality, (dis)obedience, and conflict. Next, we investigate the role and operation of law in totalitarian settings such as Nazi and Communist Germany. Finally, we consider the difficulties that such legacies pose for democracy, the rule of law, and the economy in post-totalitarian societies. In this context, we examine the need for ‘transitional justice’, the relationship between law and the market, and the challenges posed by freedom of speech.
Overall, the course aims to develop skills at using theory and history to inform debates on contemporary challenges, such as multiculturalism, punishment, (illegal) downloading/streaming/file-sharing, and economic development. In addition to gaining substantive expertise in various socio- and politico-legal fields, students develop communicative competence through participatory exercises, and intercultural competence through discussion with other students.
This course is designed for all students with an interest in social sciences – in particular, history, sociology or political science – or in law. It is conceived as an undergraduate class, but the variety of students taking this course typically ranges from first-year students to post-graduate students. This experiential diversity provides unique opportunities for students to learn from one another.
No prior knowledge of law or of social science is required; the only prerequisite is an open mind.
Students are expected to attend each class; read the literature assigned for each class; and participate in class discussions and excursions. In addition, each student must either (i) complete two written protocols that analyze assigned readings, or (ii) complete one written protocol and make a short, research-based oral in-class presentation on a different topic that is related to one of the class themes. Finally, each student is required to take a written final examination.
The grade for this course will be based on:
Readings for the course are contained in a reader that will be provided at orientation.
In recent years, Islam has increasingly become the subject of public debate and discourse in the Western World as well as a core research topic in various disciplines in the social sciences. This course will take an in-depth look at Muslims and Islam in Europe and will analyze and discuss the present condition of Muslims living in Europe from a socio-anthropological perspective. In order to do so, Islam will first be introduced from a general perspective. The first sessions of the course will provide a review of theories of cultural difference and secularism. Having established this theoretical lens, the following sessions will look at various public discourses regarding Islam and Muslims in Europe. Here issues such as Islam-state relations, gender aspects, and everyday religious practices of Muslims in Europe will be closely examined, accompanied by a critical analysis of particular public controversies regarding Islam. To get a good insight, various excursions will be made.
This course is designed for all students having a professional, political or personal interest in a deeper and thus more differentiated understanding of Islam and Muslims in Europe.
No prior knowledge is required but an interest in following current debates on Islam and Muslims in Europe is desired.
1. Attendance and Participation
2. Presentation and Discussion Papers
Students will be required to present one time a text form the reading list. The presentation should summarize the text, introduce the terminology that is used and conclude with investigative questions (max. 10 min.).
3. Take-Home Exam
Participants are required to take a take-home examination in which they will answer two questions out of four in order to discuss and elaborate on the topics and issues addressed during the course.
A course reader will be provided.
The notions of ‘media’, ‘medium’, ‘mediation’ or ‘mediatization’ have occupied authors in the humanities for decades and have led to the emergence of new university programs as much as they initiated debates about the boundaries of already existing disciplines. Recently, different authors from the Anglo-American branch of the field have spoken of a newer brand of “German media theory”. In this course, we will scrutinize this labelling by discussing different historical and contemporary examples where cultural critics, philologists, philosophers, and artists have undertaken research about media and communication in Germany and, more specifically, in Berlin.
We will focus on the period from the 1920s onwards and increasingly move towards the present. As we go along, we will build bridges between historical positions and contemporary ones, providing a sense for continuities and discontinuities in media theoretical positions and formats of media critique. Through the collective experience and critical discussion of texts, films and field trips, students will gain a wide understanding of the problems and objects of media-theoretical inquiry and of its historical and geographical context.
The overarching questions this course seeks to answer are: "What are common themes and issues in media theory and media critique?", "How did they develop in or refer to the particular context of Berlin?"
Altogether, this course has three intents: It serves as an introduction to problems in media studies for newcomers; it particularly focuses on media studies in Germany and Berlin for those already more familiar with questions in the field; it enquires about Berlin as both production site and object of media research.
This course is suitable as an introductory course for everyone who is interested in (cultural) theories about media and communication. For those who already have a background in media studies or related disciplines, the course might provide additional information about the German and Berlin context of the discipline. For all others, the course might serve as a general albeit selective introduction into repeating themes of media studies. The course is interdisciplinary in nature and particularly suited for undergraduate students from the fields of cultural studies, social theory, communication studies, comparative literature, art history, anthropology, and philosophy.
A general openness towards the engagement with conceptual abstractions and artistic practices is expected, but no prior knowledge is required.
You are required to attend and actively participate during the sessions, to introduce into one of the readings and organize its discussion, and to write an essay at the end of the course.
Text presentation and discussion organization
Texts are provided in the course reader and we will discuss the allocation of the texts in the first session. Depending on the size of the group, each text will be introduced by one or two students. The introduction should include a general summary of the text as well as additional biographical information about the author. In addition, you are asked to identify key concepts that are relevant in the text and to select paragraphs that provide information about those concepts. After the introduction, we will split into groups, read the paragraphs you provided and collectively gather what those concepts are about. You are asked to channel and store our discussion, for example by writing down our ideas in a pad and guide us if we have not recovered all necessary information from the paragraph.
On the last day of the course, you will be given short text fragments that describe recent developments in media culture. You will be asked to analyse and interpret those fragments in relation to the authors or theories we discussed during the course. Details about the length and form of the essay will be given in class.
A course reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.
Europe and its role in the world have changed dramatically over the last century. Once European empires dominated the greater part of the world. Today, Europe consists of a number of middle-sized and small states. At the same time, many of these states like the UK, France but also Germany still play a very prominent role on the global stage, individually but also as part of the European Union. Looking back, as a historian, there is much to investigate: Why did the European powers lose their empires? How did they come to terms with their loss of power? In which ways did Europe still very much take center stage in many of the global developments of the 20th century?
The course tries to give an answer to these questions by analyzing the history of Europe’s international involvement. We will start with the July Crisis 1914 and go on chronologically. Major parts concern the two World Wars, warfare that devastated the whole continent, with Germany always at the heart of the conflict. Then, we examine the process of decolonization, which the colonial powers resisted as long as they could, by sometimes peaceful, but more often violent means.
The Suez Crisis, eventually, came as a turning point. In times of the Cold War, it revealed to Great Britain and France that their precarious international position was irrevocable and forced them to adopt new strategies. Regional integration (or close bilateral cooperation) was one of them, a special transatlantic partnership another, and the acquisition of the atomic bomb a third. Last but not least, they both tried to retain considerable influence over their former colonies, in political as well as in economic matters.
All in all, this is an international history of the 20th Century from a strictly European, or to be more precise, a Western European point of view, as very strong emphasis will be laid on the three main European powers: Great Britain, France and Germany. In cursory overviews as well as in particular case studies it will be made clear that Europe’s role in the world was not always beneficial, far from it.
Political history will be at the center of this class. Yet, over the course of the 20th century, economic and legal aspects did become more and more important, not to mention the growing impact of various ideological worldviews and cultural perceptions. Consequently, all these issues have to be addressed simultaneously.
The organization of the class will be roughly similar from session to session. In the morning sessions, there will be brief oral presentations based on the reading material made available as well as PowerPoint-based lectures and discussions. In the afternoon sessions, work groups will be formed either to study different kinds of source material (mostly texts, but also tables, pictures and caricatures) using historical methods or to work with study questions. Field trips and guest speakers will complement the agenda.
Students from all academic levels and backgrounds are welcome.
There are no specific prerequisites for this course other than intellectual curiosity and the willingness to engage with a broad range of historical works and documents.
Active participation is expected, in class, in group work, and in discussions with guest speakers. To be prepared, careful reading of the texts in the course reader is imperative. Furthermore, students will have to give at least one oral presentation, complete one short essay (3-5 pages) and pass the final exam.
A course reader will be made available.
This course is about Berlin, and the story of its tumultuous and epoch defining twentieth century. We examine this history through various lenses: the biographies of individuals, the words of writers who bore witness to the vertiginous social, political and physical changes the city underwent, and buildings and monuments whose physical construction, destruction and reconstruction reflected the ideological turmoil and conflict of twentieth century Berlin.
Famous Berliners we will meet include the murdered Communist leader Rosa Luxemburg, the artist Käthe Kollwitz, the actress Marlene Dietrich, the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, the adopted Berliner David Bowie and the famous East German dissident musician Wolf Biermann. The contextualized stories of these individuals will offer us unique perspectives politically, artistically and socially into the tumult and struggle that marked their times in the city. These figures occupy a range of different position(s) as Berliners, as radicals, as artists of resistance to or collaboration with Nazism, and Communism, as drifters and exiles whose stories reflect Berlin’s unique position in the twentieth century as ‘no man’s land, frontier, a city adrift in the sands of Central Europe.’
In a similar way, we will examine the words of writers who bore witness to the extremism and societal upheaval that marked twentieth century Berlin. From the witnessing of Roth and Isherwood to life in Weimar and Nazi Berlin, to the social and political commentary by Christa Wolf on the moral struggles of life lived on different sides of the Berlin Wall, we will assess their writings in their historical contexts. We will assess their words as evocations of Berlin, but also as potential or overt acts of resistance to the extremism they lived under, that attempted to maintain a solidarity with the idea of Berlin as a place of artistic and social freedom and permissiveness.
Finally, we will discover the story of places in Berlin whose physical building, destruction and rebuilding can be situated in the wider systems of ideology, power and social relations that so cataclysmically defined the physical landscape of Berlin after 1933. In this, we will focus on the story of Potsdamer Platz, the Palace of the People and as an opposite postscript to Berlin’s twentieth century, the Holocaust Memorial in Mitte.
This course does not seek to provide a ‘grand narrative’ of Berlin’s twentieth century history. Instead, it follows a thread that weaves through the history: the thread left behind by those who bore witness to their times. By tracing the stories of contemporary witnesses, left for us in books, films and songs, and in the physical construction of the city, we open up a human dimension that enriches and challenges our understanding of Berlin’s traumatic recent history.
Structured largely chronologically, the course will work with films and novels whilst building on a clear historiographical base provided in class seminars. The teaching will be augmented by physical excursions into Berlin to trace the stories we encounter and class discussions will form the basis for a seminar paper that students will be required to submit at the end of the course. This history course approaches the story of Berlin through the reflections and refractions of individual humans’ lives who struggled upon the immense stage of a city at the very symbolic and literal heart of the catastrophes of the twentieth century.
This course is for university level students with open minds and incurable curiosity about the world around them.
Interest in Berlin, and its extraordinary recent past.
Attendance in class and the careful reading of the assigned course materials are most important. The reading pack will be divided into compulsory and supplementary readings. Furthermore, the course will require participation in the field trips, engaged discussion of the material in class that shows you have completed the required reading, and the completion of a final paper on a topic related to the course but decided by yourself in discussion with the lecturer. Guidelines for the papers as well as suggested topics will be distributed during the first session. The instructor will be available for student consultations should any further guidance be required.
‘Class Participation’ will include participation in field trips and engagement in discussion in class. ‘Short Presentation’ will be a brief presentation whereby students will describe the topic they have chosen for their research paper, and link their choice to themes in the course that they have found interesting. It will provide a useful chance for feedback and discussion within the group as a whole.
A course reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.
The course introduces students to the politics, governance and ethics of sustainability. The key challenges of our time are global by nature. However, the current system of global governance based on sovereign states (often in competition with each other) is ill equipped to face global challenges such as poverty, climate change, environmental degradation and availability of resources. While states struggle to provide a sustainable future for their citizens, they are increasingly forced into a logic of sustainability for all people and responsibility for the global commons. This new logic is based on the concept of interconnectedness and the impact of our actions on the generations to come.
The course examines major current global challenges divided into economic, political and environmental issues. Climate change is only one of many environmental issues facing our planet, but due to its importance and overwhelming impact, it will be given the main focus of this course. We will not only look at the science behind and consequences of global warming, but will also study the two pillars of the global climate governance: the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The analysis of the UNFCCC process will further lead us to review the Paris Agreement from 2015. We will discuss how effective it can be in dealing with one of the biggest threats of the 21st century and whether it can still achieve its goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C/1.5°C”.
A special session will be devoted to technological, political, social and economic solutions to environmental issues. Do we – as purported by some – need to replace capitalism and stop economic growth in order to prevent further environmental destruction? Or is there a way to move towards a “green growth”, and utilize the benefits of the free market to increase environmental protection? This will lead us to the question of what the future will look like. Will we continue to cross planetary boundaries and endanger the capability of different ecosystems? Or will the 21st century witness a major shift away from fossil fuels and environmental destruction to a more sustainable economy?
The discussions in the class will be complemented by at least two field trips and possibly a visit of a guest speaker.
The course is designed for students with different academic backgrounds and a general interest in sustainability and sustainable development. There are no special prerequisites for the course.
1.) Attendance and class participation
A course reader will be provided.