About the Programme
Urban studies and its discourse on the city combine scholarship in fields as diverse as human geography, history, and the arts. Berlin, with its seemingly infinite possibilities for creative societal- and self-fashioning, provides an excellent socio-cultural analytical model. It is at once a fixed “place” with a distinct topography and an interactive “space” comprised of residents and visitors of multifarious social groups.
A balanced appreciation of the interplay of place and space in Berlin’s cityscape is key for students eager to learn about the city’s past and present. In turn, one requires a sound historical overview of Berlin’s spatial and social makeup in order to comprehend contemporary Berlin fully.
FUBiS invites you to join us as we analyze and explore places/spaces in Germany’s ultimate “urban text”, Berlin. In-class analysis and discussion of academic and literary texts about Berlin will prepare you for our course excursions. We begin at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s most important site that functions as place and space. Here you will learn more about this landmark and its meaning in Berlin’s social imaginary, linking temporal layers of past and present in Berlin.
In the seven sessions that follow, we continue our temporal-topographical inquiry, meeting with experts at other places/spaces in Berlin (including the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Jewish Museum, and the Berlin Wall Memorial). We will conduct on-site discussions of these unique places/spaces in historical, spatial, social, and even literary terms. Upon completing the course, students will have compiled a portfolio of short essays reflecting their critical reception of Berlin’s place/spaces.
In this manner, our course not only teaches you how places/spaces fuse Berlin’s past and present and shape contemporary Berlin: it also enables you to create a uniquely personal connection to Berlin.
Ideal for students of cultural, political, and social sciences, this seminar seeks to bring to the foreground connections between Berlin's topography, its history, and its current functions as a political and cultural space.
I. Active Participation
Being prepared for the seminar, e.g., having read the texts carefully.
Constructive and productive participation in class and during the fieldwork.
Respect for the opinions and comments of the other seminar participants.
II. Seminar Times and Excursions
The seminar takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays and includes excursions with the instructor in Berlin.
You will prepare a 20-minute presentation (including discussion), in which you will present and explain a seminar topic. It is important that you prepare a handout with theses to debate with the other seminar participants.
IV. Weekly Assignments
Weeks 1 and 2: Essays - You will write (two) 500-word essays. Analyzing a specific excursion through the analytical lens of a seminar reading, your essays will adhere to academic style (MLA).
Week 3: Podcast - You and a partner will write and record a podcast that presents and evaluates one of your favorite places/spaces in Berlin.
Week 4: Poster Presentation - You and a partner will present and explain a seminar topic, reflecting on how your academic work and personal experiences in Berlin affect your understanding of this topic.
Freie Universität Berlin is an outstanding, future-oriented institution in Germany’s world-renowned academic landscape. Repeatedly selected as one of the country’s Universities of Excellence, it has an acclaimed international orientation, interdisciplinary approach, and commitment to social responsibility.