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Douglas Biow, Director MEZ 3.126, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-3470

Spring 2006

EUS 361 • Berlin: A Visual Survey-GER

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34795 -TBA


Course Description

Berlin is a city with a rich history that is visually embedded in the cityscape of its architecture, monuments and sites of memory. Over the past century, the city has undergone a number of changes in political regimes. It has been an important site in two World Wars and the Cold War, and most recently, the focal point of a unified Germany. Unification in 1990 has made Berlin the gateway for westernization to former Soviet Bloc countries. These changes are found in a range of scales as seen through advertising, architecture, monuments, graphic design, franchises, media, fashion, and consumer products. We will use postcards of Berlin as a starting point to enter the city and view these changes. Postcards as artifacts allow us to see changes that can be found in architecture, popular culture and fashion, each changing at different rates of time. Students from all disciplines will use Berlin as a foundation upon which to view their own discipline and survey these visual changes by viewing the past and the present in order to expand the scope of their knowledge. This will be done with by comparing images from different times of the same location. Significant sites are documented in postcards such as the Jewish Museum by Daniel Libeskind and the renovated Reichstag by Sir Norman Foster. We will investigate these sites and others in order to understand how external factors, such as politics bring about new architecture and change in the city. At a smaller scale, we can see changes taking place by the influx of western consumer products and advertisements on billboards. Guidebooks often lead us through a city, but we will use postcards and their images to discover why these sites are important enough to be on a postcard. We will visit significant locations that have been associated with political regimes. As we travel from east to west, attractions we will visit are Alexanderplatz - a public area with a 365 meter high television tower and observation deck built by the East Germans; the Museum Island with Berlin's classical museums adjacent to a controversial former East German government building; and the Reichstag that saw the rise and fall of World War II. As we follow the path of the Berlin Wall, it will take us through different parts of Berlin, such as Kreuzberg which now contains Germany's largest Turkish population; Checkpoint Charlie that saw a stand-off between the US and East Germany; the newly opened Holocaust Memorial by Peter Eisenman; Potsdamer Platz with remnants of the Berlin Wall and into the western realm with the Zoologischer Garten and Bauhaus Archive. The city will be uncovered at a range of scales, from the front door of the domestic realm to the front door of the Reichstag.

Preparation for the course includes viewing German films that reveal the culture and changes in Berlin from various decades. These films include, Goodbye Lenin, Run, Lola Run, Wings of Desire, Berlin die Symphonie der Grossstadt (Berlin, Symphony of a Great City), Sonnenallee, and Metropolis.

Grading Policy

Participation in films and readings followed by discussion: 10%

Participation in seminar discussions in Berlin: 20%

Written component on sites with documentation map: 50%

Final presentations: 20%


Ghosts of Berlin, Brian Ladd

My Century, G√ľnter Grass

To Die in Berlin, Carlos Cerda

Course pack with additional articles on architecture and design


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