Germany, Berlin

Borders & Crossings: German Literature and Culture from Romanticism to the Present

when 4 June 2016 - 16 July 2016
duration 6 weeks
credits 6 ECTS
fee EUR 1350

This course highlights the chief aesthetic and intellectual accomplishments of momentous periods in German cultural history from the 19th-21st centuries. Our focus will be on all sorts of borders - physical, ideological, intellectual, political, metaphorical, textual, generational, gendered, and multicultural - and crossing borders, as passages to more creative or liberated states of being, or as transgressive acts. We will ask, for example, how the Romantics imagined the borders between reality and fantasy, how the Modernist search for new forms both reflected on and rejected these borders, and how political and sociocultural boundaries configure contemporary Germany.

On field trips to seven districts of Berlin, we will examine how Berlin’s cultural environment represents and transcends borders and limits. We’ll travel to the Kleist Memorial, view 19th-century Romantic artwork at the Alte Nationalgalerie, explore the creative contributions by Jews at the turn-of-the-20th-century in the Jewish Museum, encounter Expressionist art at the Brücke Museum, locate and translate some signs at a permanent exhibit in the former Jewish neighborhood at Bayerischer Platz, visit the Brecht-Weigel-Museum, learn about the configuration of the Berlin Wall and its history at the Wall Museum, engage with the “touch-me” exhibits in the GDR Museum, walk along a strip of graffiti on the old Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery, imagine Wall-jumping at the Lenné Triangle on Potsdamer Platz, and wander amidst the vibrant colors and fresh produce of the largest Turkish market in Berlin.

Course leader

Dr. Peggy Setje-Eilers

Target group

This course is designed for intellectually curious, engaged students interested in learning about the cultural and literary history of Germany in English translation. Students should be eager to explore interdisciplinary connections of literature, the arts and music, social movements, and politics. No specialized knowledge is required. Students must be willing to participate actively in discussions and field trips in Berlin to sites and museums relevant to course content. Attendance is crucial.

Course aim

The course will provide insight into interconnections in artistic and social change from Romanticism to the present from the particular perspective of borderlines, margins, and the challenges of navigating these spaces. Students will learn to identify and analyze strategies writers and theoreticians use to negotiate the limits of figurative and real borders. Readings and discussions will be in English.

Credits info

Participation (attendance, preparation, discussion): 20%
3 response papers: 15%
Oral presentations of response papers: 15%
Midterm take-home exam: 25%
Final take-home exam: 25%

Fee info

EUR 1350: Tuition
EUR 250: Program fee