3.15 Urban Imaginaries: Between Place and Space in Berlin
Language of instruction: English
Course type: Subject course, B-Track
Contact hours: 48 (6 per day)
Course days: Tuesday & Friday
ECTS credits: 5
Course fee: € 1,300
Can be combined with all A-Track courses
Urban studies and its discourse on the city draw on scholarship from fields as diverse as human geography, history, anthropology and the arts. Berlin, with its seemingly infinite possibilities for memory, imagination and creative self-fashioning, offers a rich analytical model. It is a city, which is as much a fixed place with a distinct topography as it is an imaginary that glides between remembering and forgetting. A measured understanding of the interplay of place, space and memory in Berlin’s cityscape is key for students who are eager to learn about the city’s many pasts and presents. FUBiS invites you to join us as we analyze and explore Berlin.
This seminar brings to the fore connections between Berlin's distinct topography, its radical histories, and its current trajectories as a political and cultural space. That cities are a complex assemblage – at best multiple constellations existing simultaneously – is enabled through perspectives on migration, queerness and postcoloniality for instance. In-class analysis and discussion of academic and literary texts, podcasts and films about Berlin will prepare participants for course excursions. Our temporal-topographical inquiry will take us to a diverse set of historical sites, cultural places and neighborhoods in the city (such as the Berlin Wall Memorial, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Schwules Museum, Sonnenallee).
We will conduct on-site discussions of these places/spaces in historical, spatial and social terms and record the urban with methodical observations. Upon completing the course, students will have compiled a portfolio of short essays reflecting their critical reception of Berlin’s places/spaces as well as their gendered and embodied engagements, observations and memories of the city. The course not only enables an appreciation of how places/spaces are living archives of Berlin’s past and present, it also invites participants to create their own personal record of Berlin.
After attending this seminar, students will
- understand the topographical, social, and symbolic organization of place/space in an urban setting, Berlin in particular;
- gain insight into the character of cities as multiple, contested and always-in-the making constellations
- be able to reflect how access to the city is always subjective and contingent because it is primarily gendered, embodied, classed and racialized.
- be familiar with how the city’s history continues to shape contemporary Berlin and its social imaginaries.