Berlin and the 20th Century


Spring 2017
12 Haviland
Day & Time: 
TuTh 12:30-2
Class Number: 

This course provides an introduction to Germany’s experience of the twentieth century, analyzed through the social and cultural history of its modern metropolis. Pivotal site for the collapse of four different Germanies between 1918 and 1989, Berlin has been the capital of imperialism, war and revolution, democracy, social reform and cultural experimentation, Nazism, genocide and urban warfare, Cold War division, student radicalism in the West and Soviet-style Socialism in the East, and finally re-united Germany, haunted by the presence of the past. While our analysis will be buoyed by close readings of short primary texts (among others, from the collection Metropolis Berlin 1890-1940) and recent scholarship on Berlin’s ruptured twentieth-century history, careful analysis of visual sources (architecture, urban design, film and photography) will be at the heart of this course. As we ourselves journey through Berlin’s history, we will pay close attention to the ways in which contemporaries envisioned modernity as well to the darker side that these visions entailed. Primary sources and short readings will be available on bCourses. In preparation, please purchase a copy of Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin (1998) and listen to Berlin’s music of the last century from cabaret to techno: