Berlin in Film and Fiction: From the Cold War to German Reunification

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Richard Schumaker Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Since 1945, Berlin has become a cultural Weltstadt in many ways; this panel would like to focus on three of them. First, the contemporary situation of Berlin in reunified Germany serves as a lens for the flow of people, ideas, rinfluences between Europe and the rest of the world. Second, from 1945-1989, most of the tensions of the Cold War converged in Berlin. Third, for both of these reasons, today a large number of films, novels, and TV programs are set in Berlin, thus making it a privileged place of cultural representation. The purpose of this panel is to study all three of these situations from an international and comparative point of view.

Thus, this panel will have a double axis. On the one hand, it will study Berlin as a place where cultural identity is expressed during the Cold War and after German reunification. Second, we will emphasize the responses writers and filmmakers of different nationality, languages, and culture have to Berlin from 1945-2016.

While there are no limitations to the themes and avenues of inquiry for this panel, we would like to suggest three questions in particular:

1. In the case of non-German language writers or filmmakers, to what extent is the representation of Berlin shaped, conditioned, or limited by their national cultural and linguistic backgrounds?

2. How does the representation of Berlin shift after “Die Wende?”

3. Are there taboos or limitations of representation of Berlin?

4. What are the precise areas of contrast between German-language writers and filmmakers and non-German language writers and filmmakers in the representation of Berlin?

5. Can one study similarities and differences in the texts of German and non-German writers who represent Berlin?

Convenient URLs on film and literature set in Berlin:



Spy Films:

This is a director’s sponsored session. Volunteers to chair the session are welcomed.