An Introduction to Modern Germany and Berlin (3 credits)
This course, taught by faculty member Roland Dollinger, is a core requirement for all students. Students will be introduced to the history and culture of modern Germany with an emphasis on the 20th century.
They will become familiar with the major political and cultural developments in Germany from the late 19th century until today. We will explore the six different political systems that Germany experienced since its modern beginning in 1871, focusing on the Weimar Republic, National Socialism, Divided Germany after 1945, and contemporary Germany since its reunification in 1989. Using a history of modern Germany as our main text, we will also study some poems, short stories, essays, and a film to illustrate Germany's past. Museum visits and excursions to various memorials in Berlin will exemplify the dialectics of forgetting and remembering that characterizes Germany's culture of the 20th century.
Students also select one of the following courses:
Dance Practice and Study (3 credits)
Dance students take 3 technique classes a week in the greater Berlin dance community, enabling each student to meet local dancers as well as to seek out their personal field of interest and explore technique options that are lesser known in the US. Once a week, Sarah Lawrence students take a private class/workshop (3 hours) with Professor Ingo Reulecke; using somatic techniques, students are encouraged to find new compositional methods through improvisation and visualization that will segue into their independent choreographic project.
The afternoon seminar, taught by Jacalyn Carley, is held at the Mediathek dance archives. Through lectures and films, we explore the very unique history of German modern dancers and their contribution to American modern dance, examine how the five different political systems Germany experienced in the past 100 years affected the dance, and how dance reflects and even influences social history. By attending dance and theatre events in the evening, students will experience the burgeoning dance scene in Berlin today—depending upon availability, we will see mature dance companies, genre-mixing troupes, classical works by the state ballet company, community dance events, or discover off-venues presenting highly experimental work.
The Practice and Study of Visual Arts & Architecture in Berlin (3 credits)
Visual Arts & Architecture students will be practicing either drawing or photography three mornings a week. Working on-location (with either fine arts instructor Lara Faroqhi or photography instructor Klaus W. Eisenlohr), students will be drawing or shooting in places that dovetail with the core course in German Culture. For example, while academically considering former Soviet-governed East Berlin in the afternoon, morning practice locations might involve photographing or sketching original Stalinistic architecture, out-of-the-way Russian memorials, or be Wall-specific.
Afternoon lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays are also on-location. Architecture studies, instructed by Christian Dengler, involves extensive walking and intellectual engagement with entire sections of Berlin that reflect post-WWII rebuilding, politically motivated city planning, Bauhaus-inspired structures and/or post-Wall ventures into post-modern architecture. Gundula Avenarius, visual arts lecturer, meets in a different museum or gallery each session. She provides in-depth understanding of art movements/directions that refer either to the students’ core course in German Culture or to major new directions in German art today.
German Language Studies in Berlin (3 credits)
This program is open to German language students with at least one semester of college German or the equivalent. Our partner, Die Neue Schule, offers eleven levels of classes, enabling a student to place into the most appropriate level. Classes meet Monday-Friday mornings for five weeks, and twice weekly for intensive conversation in the afternoon (Tuesday and Thursday) for four weeks. Language skills acquired at Die Neue Schule are reinforced by excursions and in the German Culture core seminar, thus placed and experienced in a true historical and cultural context. For the less experienced language student, this is an excellent emersion into German language and culture.
All students present independent projects at the end of the semester
Our fifth and final week is dedicated entirely to realizing independent projects, with faculty guidance, which are presented on the final weekend for peer discussion and review.