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Berlin: Capital of Modernity

Berlin: Capital of Modernity

  • Berlin, GERMANY
  • IDSEM-UG 9104 | 4 credits | Instructors: Karen Hornick (NYU Gallatin) & Fredric Smoler (Sarah Lawrence College)
  • LEVEL: Undergraduate, NYU and non-NYU students
  • TOPICS: Literature, film, cultural history, World War II, and more
  • TRAVEL DATES: May 21 - July 2, 2024


Beginning Summer 2024, Berlin: Capital of Modernity will be a part of the Office of Global Programs NYU Berlin Summer program. Interested students must submit a study away interest form and a statement of interest. (Statement of interest should be completed in the enrollment portal after submitting a study away interest form).

large stone gate lit by colorful lights at night

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany

Some of the most thrilling, momentous, and terrible events of the 1900s occurred in Berlin, which present tales of warning and inspiration to the present century. This four-week interdisciplinary seminar tracks these major events and traces change through the study of primary materials (literature, film, art, buildings, music, political discourse) and secondary readings drawn from a range of disciplines including history, sociology, philosophy, and critical theory.

Berlin's streets, buildings, memorials, and cultural monuments offer cautionary tales about the folly of nationalist ambition; inspiring sagas of intellectual and physical courage; cold testimonials of crime and retribution; lyrical ballads of brutal honesty; personal records of hope and despair. From one perspective, all of these narratives are episodes in an epic whose grand and central scene is World War II; this is the point of view to be adopted in this course.

Students will take in many of the sights and sounds of old and contemporary Berlin but will focus on the involvement of twentieth-century, Berlin-based politicians, activists, artists, architects, bohemians, writers, and intellectuals with the causes, experience, and consequences of World War II. Our period of study begins just before the outbreak of World War I and ends during the astonishing building boom of the post-Wall 1990s and early 2000s.

Classes, taught in English, will meet four days a week. Survival German language courses will be offered daily. Group site visits will occur throughout the week and on weekends but students will be given ample opportunity to explore Berlin and develop individual projects. Field trips will encompass the rich resources of the city's museums, neighborhoods, historical sites, memorials, and cultural monuments.

Gallatin students: This course fulfills 4 credits of the Interdisciplinary Seminar as well as the Humanities requirement.


  • Undergraduate students of all NYU and non-NYU schools
  • Must have completed first-year of study (two full semesters) and will be 18 or older prior to beginning of term away
  • Must be in good academic & disciplinary standing
  • Must be matriculated at a college or university during the Summer 2024 term

Contact Info

NYU Gallatin Office of Global Programs
411 Lafayette St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003
1 (212) 998-7133 phone
1 (212) 995-4265 fax

Social Media: Facebook | Instagram (@gallatinglobal)

Past Photos from "Berlin: Capital of Modernity"