HIS 306N • TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!
20 years ago, a concrete wall ran through the heart of Germany, dividing our world into East and West, communist and capitalist, good and evil. From J.F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner!" in 1962 to president Reagans demand Tear down this Wall! in 1987, American politicians have always appealed for German Reunification yet few believed that words could bring about such a change. Today, we want to investigate how words, images and art can influence political decisions and how can they be manipulated. This course will introduce students to some of the most important topics in post-war and contemporary German history and culture in relation to the USA and Russia. An exercise in cultural history, this course will teach you how to critically read film and media texts, political speeches and literary essays as part of and identify the slippery boundaries between entertainment and propaganda. We will engage with cultural documents from US, British, German and Soviet sources, such as Winston Churchills infamous Iron Curtain speech, J.F. Kennedys address at the Brandenburg Gate, and media reports from the fall of 1989. We will watch contemporary films such as The Lives of Others and Good bye Lenin, and will discuss texts like Stasiland. Stories from Behin the Wall or the comic account of Communisms collapse Heroes Like Us. Further topics to be addressed include: youth culture in East and West Germany, graffiti art and German Punk movements, Stasi and surveillance, and contemporary German life and culture.
10% participation in discussions 15% homework assignments (questions to accompany assigned readings) 15% short in-class quizzes 20% midterm exam 20 % reaction Papers (2 papers, each 2-3 pp, one will be peer-reviewed) 20% final group project on topic of interest
Fulbrook, Mary. History of Germany, 1918-2000. The Divided Nation. Malden: Blackwell, 2002. Schmemann, Serge. When the Wall Came Down. London: Kingfisher, 2006. Funder, Anne. Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall. London: Granta Books, 2003.