Feb 21, 2024  
Course Catalog 2021-2022 
Course Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

WGS 274 - Black in Berlin

On a map of contemporary Berlin, Germany, we find a subway station called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and a street named after Jesse Owens. Owens upset Nazi theories of white physical superiority by winning four gold medals for the U.S. in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Berlin reflects African American history in these and many more historical, political and cultural traces. This seminar will compare the troubled histories of the U.S. and Germany as we investigate the very different, but interwoven, changing definitions of, and expectations for, race, gender and identity. We will begin by considering Berlin as an unexpected place of openness and opportunity for African Americans, as it was here that W.E.B. DuBois analyzed race not as a biological but as a social phenomenon. We will continue to the deadly racial catastrophes of the early twentieth century and the changing social and economic climates of both countries. We will continue the course with the ecstatic German welcome of presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 and the hope for a new post- racial era. Our final weeks will examine present day Afro-German culture. Questions of gender and intersectionality infuse every topic of Black in Berlin, from the first readings on Colonialism to the last week on contemporary Afro-German culture.

Through film, music, fiction, art, essays, newspapers and interviews we will discuss the following topics:

·       German colonialism in Africa

·       German universities and black intellectuals

·       19th & 20th century travel and expat communities

·       Jesse Owens and the black athlete in Germany

·       American G.I.s in Germany after WWII

·       Audre Lorde’s Berlin Years

·       Obama in Berlin 2008

·       Contemporary German hip-hop & rap

This course is cross listed with GER 270 Black in Berlin  .

Credits 1

Cross-listed with GER 270 Black in Berlin  . Course taught in English.


Arts and Humanities

Beyond the West

Compass Attributes
Humanities, Structure/Power/Inequality, Taylor and Lane Scholars