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The Digital Flâneur: Mapping Twentieth-Century Berlin

Posted by on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 in Courses, Uncategorized.

GER 8205, German, Russian, and Eastern European Studies | Anderson/Calico

SP 2018: TR 1:10 – 2:25

Taught by Clifford Anderson, Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning and Professor of Religious Studies, and Joy Calico, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Musicology, with Lindsey Fox, Coordinator of Geographic Information Systems. 

The Digital Flâneur: Mapping Twentieth-Century Berlin

This seminar explores the cultural history of Berlin in the twentieth century using theories and tools of the digital humanities. We examine the culture and geopolitics of twentieth-century Berlin from auditory and spatial perspectives, taking Walter Benjamin’s notion of the flâneur as our guide. The flâneur has long been a favorite emblem of urban modernity but it is also ripe for critique, as the freedom to wander a European cityscape at will has never been equally available to all. We engage classic texts about the city (Döblin, Roth, Simmel) and current scholarship on several topics (the Berlin Wall, urban planning, green spaces, migrant experience, queer Berlin, music, sport) to understand multiple ways of being and moving in that city at different moments in the twentieth century. We also work with questions and tools of the digital humanities based on the premise of Todd Presner’s HyperCities, “a collaborative research and educational platform for traveling back in time to explore the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment.” As flâneurs in the world of digital humanities, students will peruse multiple digital tools (such as Atom, CityGML, Cloudant, GitHub, Mapbox, GeoJSON, QGIS, Neo4J and Wikidata) over the course of the semester, examining what they represent and exclude. Students work on projects in time travel, curating tours of Berlin built on historical maps since 1900 featuring still and moving images, audio, historical documents, and prose. As an exercise in digital public humanities, students’ projects will be featured on a public website.

This course is open to undergraduates as well as graduate students outside the home department. This course does not fulfill requirements for undergraduate majors in German.