Kursprogramm SoSe 2017

Berlin in Twentieth-Century Fiction and Film

Aims and Objectives

“Not to find one’s way about in a city is of little interest. But to lose one’s way in a city, as one loses one’s way in a forest, requires practice” (Walter Benjamin, Berliner Kindheit um 1900). In this course, we use Benjamin’s concept (adopted from Baudelaire) of the flaneur – the urban stroller/observer of streets and arcades in the modern city– to lose our way in Berlin. We will consider aspects of the city’s history and spatial organization that had a strong impact on the cultural imagination of the twentieth century in fiction and film.



Open to all. International students welcome (although a high level of English language skills will be required for responding to course materials). Maximum number: 20.


Teaching program

We draw on excerpts from Walter Benjamin’s Berliner Kindheit um 1900 (1933–38) as well as historical accounts, including Brian Ladd’s Ghosts of Berlin (1998) and David Clay Large’s Berlin (2000); we will read contemporary fiction, including Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone (1947), Peter Schneider’s Wall Jumper (1998), and Anna Funder’s Stasiland (2011); and we will complement these readings with classic Berlin films, including the two Symphony films by Walter Ruttmann (1927) and Thomas Schadt (2002), Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire (1987) and Tom Tykwer’s Lola Runs (1998).


Teaching methods

Readings, discussion of texts, film screenings and analysis, complemented by excursions into the city. Students write short reader’s responses and work on a final project (creative projects are related to the themes discussed)



Eckdaten Anmeldung Nachweis
Every alternate week,
Friday, beginning: April 7, 16:00-19:30 h

Course No. 121021.01

Lecturer: Lily Philipose