Urban studies and its discourse on the city combine scholarship in fields as diverse as human geography, history, and the arts. Berlin, with its seemingly infinite possibilities for creative societal- and self-fashioning, provides an excellent socio-cultural analytical model. It is at once a fixed “place” with a distinct topography and an interactive “space” comprised of residents and visitors of multifarious social groups.
A balanced appreciation of the interplay of place and space in Berlin’s cityscape is key for students eager to learn about the city’s past and present. In turn, one requires a sound historical overview of Berlin’s spatial and social makeup in order to comprehend contemporary Berlin fully.
FUBiS invites you to join us as we analyze and explore places/spaces in Germany’s ultimate “urban text”, Berlin. In-class analysis and discussion of academic and literary texts about Berlin will prepare you for our course excursions. We begin at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s most important site that functions as place and space. Here you will learn more about this landmark and its meaning in Berlin’s social imaginary, linking temporal layers of past and present in Berlin.
In the seven sessions that follow, we continue our temporal-topographical inquiry, meeting with experts at other places/spaces in Berlin (including the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Jewish Museum, and the Berlin Wall Memorial). We will conduct on-site discussions of these unique places/spaces in historical, spatial, social, and even literary terms. Upon completing the course, students will have compiled a portfolio of short essays reflecting their critical reception of Berlin’s place/spaces.
In this manner, our course not only teaches you how places/spaces fuse Berlin’s past and present and shape contemporary Berlin: it also enables you to create a uniquely personal connection to Berlin.
After attending this seminar, students will
Ideal for students of cultural, political, and social sciences, this seminar seeks to bring to the foreground connections between Berlin's topography, its history, and its current functions as a political and cultural space.
There are no prerequisites for this course.
I. Active Participation
What is active participation?
II. Seminar Times and Fieldwork
The seminar takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays and includes fieldwork with the instructor in Berlin.
You will prepare a 20-minute presentation (including discussion), in which you will present and explain a seminar topic. It is important that you prepare a handout with theses to debate with the other seminar participants.
IV. Course Blog
You will contribute 4 (four) 500-word posts to the class blog. Analyzing a specific aspect of a seminar topic or reading, your blog post will adhere to academic style.
A reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.