How were Berlin’s media put at risk during the Holocaust and Cold War? Annenberg participants in SummerCulture 2018 – PhD students Jennifer Henrichsen, Sanjay Jolly, Muira McCammon, Hanna Morris, Samantha Oliver and Celeste Wagner – discovered a variety of answers, when their immersive two-week research projects took them across the German city in search of evidence related to the visual memory of conflict, war and genocide.
Under the title Mediating Visual Memory of Conflict, War and Genocide in Berlin Across the Holocaust and the Cold War, SummerCulture 2018 provided students from both Penn and Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, Technische Universitat Berlin, the opportunity to address the elements of risk that plagued the German media, broadly defined, during the unprecedented difficulties associated with both the Holocaust and Cold War. From gender representations in the denazification campaigns of post-Holocaust years to the blunted coverage of the German role in the Namibian Genocide, students are focusing both on original research projects, aligned with their dissertation interests, and general classes on collective memory in order to explore how visual memory works in Berlin’s mediated landscape.
Supported in part by a research and teaching grant from the USC Shoah Foundation for Advanced Genocide Research, which awarded Center Director Barbie Zelizer a 2017-2018 Rutman Teaching and Research Fellowshipfor her development of the course, SummerCulture 2018 taught students how to use the Foundation’s video archive, apply it to their projects and engage in urban research on a broad range of visual mnemonic practices.
SummerCulture 2018 recognized that many practices of political intimidation of the media are not new. They are instead historically and globally entrenched. The course tapped the largely unresolved potential of visual memory to simultaneously work toward fostering understanding/misunderstanding of mediated conflict, war and genocide, while enhancing/disrupting recognition of the sources and visual patterning that characterize the mediation of discord.
By examining how visual memory has been mediated in Berlin across the two main ruptures of contemporary German identity—the Holocaust and Cold War—SummerCulture 2018 aimed to clarify its centrality and track how two singular events have been mnemonically fused into one template for understanding media practice in the shadow of political intimidation. SummerCulture 2018 was co-taught by Barbie Zelizer, Raymond Williams Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, and Marcus Funck, Associate Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies at the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, Technische Universitat, Berlin.
The course took place from May 28 – June 10, 2018.