ECTS Points: 5
Language requirements: min. English B2
Over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Berlin has been home to a heterogeneous Jewish community, from “assimilated” German Jews during the Wilhelmine era, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe during the Weimar Republic, and people of Jewish heritage who suffered under and sought to flee from the Nazi regime to a small post-war Jewish enclave in a divided Berlin and a vibrant Jewish community after reunification that now draws thousands of others from around the world to the city as their elective home. Through selected essays, satire, newspaper reports, memoirs, poems, photographs and graphic novels, we will discuss how Jewish identity has been negotiated against the backdrop of Berlin’s ever-changing socio-political landscape. In addition to mapping the literary terrain of Jewish identity in Berlin, we will pay special attention to urban sites that have played an important role in this process. As a result, this course pairs written works with a physical exploration of the city to paint a more detailed picture of our readings. Each week, you will be asked to visit a specific site to explore the spaces that feature in the texts or that provide important historical context for our discussions. By scratching the layers of history around us, we will also look at our own identity as elective Berliners and how we inhabit this city as members of the international community.
Becker, Jurek. “My Way of Being a Jew” from My Father, the Germans and I. Essays, lectures, interviews. Ed. Christine Becker. Trans. Claudia Johnson and Richard A. Zipser. Seagull Books, 2010. 1-15.
Benjamin, Walter. “A Berlin Chronicle” from Reflections. Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Ed. Peter Demetz. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Harcour Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1978. 3-60.
Bergelson, Dovid. “Among Refugees” from Shadows of Berlin. The Berlin stories of Dovid Bergelson. Trans. Joachim Neugroschel. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2005. 21-44.
-----. “For 12,000 Bucks” from Shadows of Berlin. The Berlin stories of Dovid Bergelson. Trans. Joachim Neugroschel. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2005. 57-64.
de Lange, Nicholas. “The Jews in the world” from An Introduction to Judaism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. 1-25.
Deutschkron, Inge. Outcast: A Jewish Girl in Wartime Berlin. Plunkett Lake Press, 2017.
Dischereit, Esther. “Ein sehr junges Mädchen trifft Nelly Sachs” from Übungen, jüdisch zu sein. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998. 9-15. [Translation provided by Russell Alt-Haaker: “A very young girl encounters Nelly Sachs”]
Edvardson, Cordelia. Burned Child Seeks the Fire. A Memoir. Trans. Joel Agee. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.
Gay, Peter. My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
Honigmann, Barbara. “Roman von einem Kinde” from Roman von einem Kinde. Sechs Erzählungen. Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1986. 7-49. [Translation provided by Russell Alt-Haaker: “Novel of a Child”]
Katin, Miriam. Letting It Go. New York: Drawn & Quarterly, 2013.
Roth, Joseph. “The Kurfürstendamm” from What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933. Trans. Michael Hofmann. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003. 147-50.
-----. “Nights in Dives” from What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933. Trans. Michael Hofmann. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003. 53-61.
Sachs, Nelly. “O the chimneys” in Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust. Ed. Marguerite M. Striar. Trans. Michael Roloff. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1998. 446-47
Tucholsky, Kurt. “Herr Wendriner Under the Dictatorship” from Germany? Germany! Satirical Writings: The Kurt Tucholsky Reader. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York and Berlin: Berlinica, 2017. 56-59.
-----. “The Border” from Germany? Germany! Satirical Writings: The Kurt Tucholsky Reader. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York and Berlin: Berlinica, 2017. 66-67.