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The Department of German presents

the 2nd Annual Mosse-Lecture

March 1, 2018 |4:30 p.m. | 370 Dwinelle Hall

Jan-Werner Mueller

with Martin Jay, Discussant

Can Architecture Be Democratic?

Many people have an intuitive sense that the built environment is bound up with politics. The lecture poses the question how we might think more systematically (and normatively) about the relationship between democracy and architecture as well as public spaces as a particular form of the built environment. A very basic distinction between representing democracy, on the one hand, and facilitating democratic practices, on the other, will serve as a structuring feature. Tracing the difficulties of representing democratic principles and/or “the people” historically, the speaker will address a number of successful examples in the US and Germany of how particular spatial arrangements can help democracy. Finally, he will pose the question whether the Internet/virtual space might replace actual physical space in fulfilling a number of functions foundational for democratic practices, continuous participation in particular – or whether filter bubbles and echo chambers will in fact contribute to democracy’s present-day decay.

Jan-Werner Mueller is a professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. He works on democratic theory and the history of political thought. His books include "Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe" (2011) and "Constitutional Patriotism" (2007). His book "What is Populism?" has been translated into more than 20 languages.

The Mosse-Lectures at Humboldt University in Berlin, founded in 1997, commemorate the history of the Mosse-family, the German-Jewish publisher Rudolf Mosse, and George L. Mosse – the eminent historian – who gave the series’ opening lecture on May 14, 1997. As an academic institution, the Mosse-Lectures follow the tradition of democratic liberalism in the spirit of Mosse's newspaper Berliner Tageblatt with a strong commitment to cultural exchange, transfer of knowledge, and political enlightenment. With generous support from The Mosse Foundation, the Department of German brings selected Mosse-Lectures to Berkeley.

Semiotic Circle of California
Saturday, January 23, 2016

Call for Papers

The Thirty-First Meeting of the Semiotic Circle of California will be held in the Faculty Club of the University of California, Berkeley on Saturday, January 23, 2016. Please submit this form together with a one paragraph abstract (attachment or CD) by December 15, 2015 for participation in the meeting. As customary, the meeting will be an open topic research paper meeting. Reservations for housing may be made directly to the Faculty Club at (510) 642-1993/540-5678 or to the Hotel Durant at (510) 845-8981.

The German Department at Berkeley welcomes this year's Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor, Professor Helmuth Lethen (IFK, Vienna). Professor Lethen is offering a compact seminar entitled "Brecht's Hauspostille." He will also participate in Prof. Kaes' seminar on the Avant-garde throughout September.

Professor Lethen will give a public lecture on "Der Schatten des Fotografen" on September 18, 4-6 pm.

Photo by Stephanie Peltner
Photo by Stephanie Peltner

The Alumni Conference “The Future of the Past” was truly a unique event. Special thanks are due to the organizing committee – Nina Berman, Noah Isenberg, Jennifer Kapzcynski, and Barbara Kosta – for putting together a well-composed program, as well as the other alumni speakers – June Hwang, Susanne Baackmann, Sara Hall, Robert McFarland, Kristin Kopp, Nancy Nenno, Kurt Beals, Rick McCormick, and Eric Ames – who travelled to Berkeley for this homecoming. We owe the pleasure of this reunion to one very special person, Professor Anton Kaes, who was the advisor on the dissertations written by all these former students. Our colleague and collaborator, who served as chair of German and chair of Film for many years in the past, has significantly shaped the way we do both German and Film Studies here at Berkeley and beyond. With his book Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War, he taught us, once again, to unfold potential possibilities for the future in our readings of the past. With this key idea he gave the title to this alumni conference, which created an opportunity for past, present and even future students of the Department of German to meet and engage in conversation. As this conference demonstrated, he has initiated a “Berkeley School” that lives on across the country. Warm thanks to all participants!

We also celebrated the forthcoming volume The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907-33 (a substantially expanded English edition of Kino-Debatte, many years in the making and co-edited by Anton Kaes, Nicholas Baer, and Michael Cowan), as well as the 10th anniversary of TRANSIT, the department’s electronic Journal of Travel, Migration, and Multiculturalism in the German-speaking World.

A full schedule of Friday's events can be found here, and Saturday's here.

Photo by Stephanie Peltner
Photo by Stephanie Peltner