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GERMAN 149: Babylon Berlin

Berlin, 1929. A police inspector and his unlikely partner, a typist and aspiring homicide detective, turn up the case of a lifetime: a far-reaching political conspiracy in the capital of a democracy on the edge. Part noir detective thriller, part historical drama, the blockbuster German television series Babylon Berlin (2017) will serve as our springboard to understand the culture, politics, and society of the Weimar Republic (1918,1933), a fifteen-year experiment in democracy that preceded the rise of the Third Reich. From corruption and criminality to sociopolitical upheaval and a remarkable arts scene: Berlin of the Roaring Twenties, a study in contrasts and conflicts, had it all. Does the Netflix hit harbor, almost eerie parallels to the present, as one German newspaper recently suggested? Weekly viewings of the complete seasons one and two will be accompanied by close study of the era's literature, cinema, and visual arts. Readings will include texts by Alfred Döblin, Hans Fallada more »
Berlin, 1929. A police inspector and his unlikely partner, a typist and aspiring homicide detective, turn up the case of a lifetime: a far-reaching political conspiracy in the capital of a democracy on the edge. Part noir detective thriller, part historical drama, the blockbuster German television series Babylon Berlin (2017) will serve as our springboard to understand the culture, politics, and society of the Weimar Republic (1918,1933), a fifteen-year experiment in democracy that preceded the rise of the Third Reich. From corruption and criminality to sociopolitical upheaval and a remarkable arts scene: Berlin of the Roaring Twenties, a study in contrasts and conflicts, had it all. Does the Netflix hit harbor, almost eerie parallels to the present, as one German newspaper recently suggested? Weekly viewings of the complete seasons one and two will be accompanied by close study of the era's literature, cinema, and visual arts. Readings will include texts by Alfred Döblin, Hans Fallada, Erich Kästner, Mascha Kaléko, Irmgard Keun, Siegfried Kracauer, Gabriele Tergit, and Kurt Tucholsky. Throughout the term we will also pay careful attention to the media-theoretical implications of the series: What is 'quality TV?' How does seriality influence storytelling and viewing? In what ways does Babylon Berlin reflect on film as a medium? What role do montage and collage play? Assessment will be based on active class participation; a series of short viewing and reading reflections; a midterm scene analysis assignment; and a final research project that will delve into specific historical intertexts (figures, sites, objects) taken up in Babylon Berlin.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: George, A. (PI)
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