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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Art History/German class offered next semester to include trip to Berlin

An interdisciplinary approach to learning is nothing new at Grinnell. However, the course GRM-295-ST “Berlin: Borders and Transgressions” (cross-listed as ART-295) takes this philosophy a little bit further than most classes—it will be taught by two professors, Associate Professor of German Dan Reynolds and Associate Professor of Art Jenny Anger, in two different countries, the United States and Germany.

“Over the years, both of us have lived [in Berlin] and we have often talked about how different it is and I think that’s part of what brought us to wanting to do the class to begin with,” Anger said.

Another unique characteristic of the class is that it will include a trip to Berlin over Spring Break. Both professors will draw on their different experiences in Berlin and expertise for the class.

“The class looks at Berlin as a cultural phenomenon, as a historical phenomenon, as a capital of arts and literature, as a city of migration and multicultural influences,” Reynolds said. “…We really try to approach all of these aspects of Berlin from a multidisciplinary perspective.”

The class will look at a variety of art forms and themes. Topics will likely include migration communities in Berlin, such as the large Turkish community, the history of the divided city following World War II and Jewish history and community in Berlin.

“We really try to combine cultural and political and economic and social histories in the course,” Anger said.

By going to Berlin and taking the content of the classroom to the real world the class will go beyond just “looking” at Berlin as a center of German and international culture and art.

“When we first proposed the course, the hope was that something like course-embedded travel would be possible and it has become possible,” Reynolds said.

Professor Reynolds and Anger taught this class once before in 2007, but without going to Berlin. The trip’s expenses will be mostly covered by the Center for International Studies, with some out-of pocket expenses, such as transportation, to be paid by the student.

“I believe the College is providing most of the major expenses, but there will be some out-of-pocket expenses for students,” Reynolds said.

While the trip is not completely planned out yet, probable destinations include historical sites in Berlin, for example the House of the Wannsee-konferenz, historically Jewish neighborhoods, museums like the Centrum Judaicum and even a possible trip to Potsdam, a smaller city in the metropolitan area of Berlin, and the Film-studio Babelsberg located in Potsdam. In addition, both professors want to draw on their contacts and provide students with the opportunity to meet some Berlin-based authors and writers.

“We want them to meet people as well as go places,” Anger said.

The trip will be very structured time-wise. Students will be asked to work on their research projects, which include a paper and a presentation and are due at the end of the course.

The class is open to everyone with second-year standing or above, however Art and German majors will be given preference. Because the class is interdisciplinary, no language requirement exists, although some students with proficient German knowledge may be asked to complete some of their reading in German. Students are expected to have some prior experience in the Humanities.

Since a class that includes a trip is pretty unheard of among students, it will probably draw interest from students across majors. Lea Greenberg ’14, a German major, plans to preregister for the course.

“I am a German major, I guess I sort of wanted to expand beyond just taking literature courses,” Greenberg said. “I also hadn’t had any exposure to any Art History courses at Grinnell.”

Despite the anticipation for many interested students, the class is limited to 12-15 spaces. Both professors want to have a transparent system for selecting students for the class.

“I would like to prioritize students who haven’t had the chance to get to know Berlin,” Reynolds said. “And we might have to ask students to write a rationale about why they want to be in the class … if we exhausted all objective measures.”

For now, the class is still half a semester away and few things are set in stone, but students with potential interest in Berlin might want to try to plan their schedule.

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