WGSS 344
Underground Berlin: Art, Performance, and Film, 1980s to Present Spring 2022
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed GERM 314 / WGSS 344 / ARTH 315

Class Details

Subsequent to the National Socialist suppression of sexual expression, the intersections of politics and art in the post-World War II era reflected an organic embeddedness within the context of the city of Berlin. This course reflects upon this history to understand Berlin’s present, its contradictory mix of new and old, “deep history” and nostalgia. Often described as an island moored within the communist territory of East Germany during the years of the Berlin Wall, West-Berlin became the city towards which many queer artists, musicians, and activists gravitated in order to avoid the involuntary conscription in the Bundeswehr, as an unexpected outcome of the government’s plan to boost population in the former capital. We will focus on the excavation and recognition of inter/cultural positions that challenge German nationalism, at the same time that the country reestablished itself as a world power. Over the semester, we will rethink Berlin with respect to the once nascent geopolitics of the European Union, and the city’s social fluctuations and periods of migration as registered through audiovisual and performative forms in advance of and in the decades following the fall of the wall in 1989. Focusing on art, performance, and film, we will examine the architectural, discursive, and cultural spaces in which these forms of creative and political expression take shape–from art museums and theater houses to occupied buildings, from independent publishing imprints and collaborative nonprofit organizations to night clubs. This course will examine the changing city with respect to activism, collectivity, alienation, solidarity, and belonging.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3816
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Weekly response papers (1-2 pages); participation in class; one research paper (12-15 pages)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Art History majors, German majors, then any interested student
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GERM 314 Division I WGSS 344 Division II ARTH 315 Division I
DPE Notes: Artistic works and subcultural formations addressed in this class reflect the intersection of difference, power, and equity in contemporary culture and society. Situating the work of artists and activists within a specific and evolving social and geopolitical context, it promotes greater understanding and skills for engaging in cultural debates on racism, homophobia, and sexism.

Class Grid

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