CFP: GSA 2009 Panel—Evolving Cityscapes Twenty Years after the Wende
After twenty years of deconstruction, renovation, and reconstruction, urban environments in the former East Germany have undergone such vast transformations that many locations bear little visual resemblance to their physical GDR past. Any tourist of Berlin in the 1990s recalls the flock of mammoth cranes, their long necks crisscrossing and towering over the city and dominating its skyline. The rapid demolition of the Berlin Wall left a physical and psychological void patched by a brick scar across the city’s face. No Man’s Land, for decades lost to the ever-expanding reach of urban development and hence pathologically horizontal and bleak, suddenly and ostentatiously grew into a decidedly vertical and garish visual testament to the dominance of capitalism. As the Schlossplatz swallows the Palast der Republik, the public and critics alike persist in questioning which historical past to preserve.
This narrative of the evolution of Berlin’s cityscape is so well-documented in fictional texts, criticism, advertisements, film, and music as to have become cliché. But similar, and often less glorified transformations have occurred in cities and towns all across the former GDR. Weimar, relatively well-preserved during the years of socialism, has continued to receive attention as the home of German classicism, the birthplace of the Bauhaus, and a recent Hauptstadt der Kultur. Dresden has been slowly scrubbed of many traces of the firebombing and its Frauenkirche has regrown out of its rubble. Smaller, less fortunate cities have witnessed the demolition of their schools and residences due to diminished populations resulting from soaring unemployment rates. All over the East, voids created by the Cold War have been filled and walls no longer deemed necessary have been demolished.
This panel will consider the changed/changing cityscapes in the East twenty years after the fall of the Wall and how the filling of previous absences and the absence of previous presence marks the cultural landscape of unified Germany. Analyses of the transitioning city in contemporary text, film, or music are welcome, as well as broader analyses of urban development.
We do not wish to exclude Berlin as an object of inquiry but would like to encourage abstracts considering the visual transformations of other urban environments as well.
Please send 250-word abstracts to Gwyneth E. Cliver at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> and Carrie Smith-Prei at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> by February 5th, 2009.
Gwyneth E. Cliver
Visiting Assistant Professor of German
Department of Modern Languages and Classics
Ball State University
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Megan McKinstry
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: http://www.missouri.edu/~graswww/resources/gerlistserv.html