Spring 2020 - HUM 340 D100

Great Cities in Their Time (4)

Great Cities in Their Time: Berlin

Class Number: 5464

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 2532, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Niall Mackenzie
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An exploration of the cultural and intellectual accomplishments of a specific city that achieved prominence in a particular time period, and had substantial impact and influence on human civilization. Examines the political, social, religious, and cultural factors that help to explain a city's significance and investigates the achievements of its citizens. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic. Breadth-Humanities.


Great Cities in Their Time: Berlin

Marlene Dietrich on stage in a smoke-filled cabaret, the Soviet flag atop a shattered Reichstag, jubilant crowds spilling over the Wall in 1989, the haunting expanse of Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial . . . no city is associated with more of the twentieth century’s most deeply etched images than Berlin.

Taking in the full range of media where Berlin’s multiple personalities have been constructed and perpetuated—including film, literature, music, architecture and visual art—we are going to examine the city’s history from its medieval origins to the present, paying special attention to its several twentieth-century identities: the hypermodern Babylon of the Weimar Republic, the capital and gravesite of the Third Reich, the quintessential setting of Cold War intrigue and, now, the palladium of civil liberties and digital rights. Students will acquire not only an understanding of Berlin’s unique profile in modern memory, but an appreciation of the responsible and serious-minded way in which Germans have reckoned with the last century’s ghosts.


  • Attendance and participation 10%
  • First response paper (4-6 pages) 10%
  • Research paper (6-10 pages) 20%
  • Reading quizzes and in-class writing 15%
  • Second response paper (4-6 pages) 15%
  • Two midterm exams (15% each] 30%



Walter Benjamin, Berlin Childhood around 1900, trans. Howard Eiland (Harvard UP 2006)
ISBN: 978-0674022225

Mel Gordon, Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin, expanded edition (Feral House 2006)
ISBN: 978-0922915965

Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Stories (New Directions 2008)
ISBN: 978-0811218047

Anonymous, A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City, trans. Philip Boehm (Picador 2006)
ISBN: 978-0312426118

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html