Weimar Mirror: Revisiting Alfred Döblin
Thursday, May 24, 2018, 7:00 p.m., Goethe Institut San Francisco, 530 Bush St #204, San Francisco, CA 94108 - Admission Free
Introduction and moderation by Peter Maravelis (City Lights Booksellers)
The Goethe Institut San Francisco in conjunction with City Lights Booksellers and New York Review Books present an evening re-exploring the classic work of German writer Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz, on the eve of the release of a new translation by Michael Hoffmann published by New York Review Books. The evening is unique as it utilizes a joint examination of the novel juxtaposed against Werner Fassbinder's epic 15 hour film treatment of the book. Local scholars in German literature and history will read from the novel, discuss elements of the story, show film clips from Fassbinder's film, and participate in a roundtable discussion. Film and novel are reflected against each other to explore the Weimar period and its significance in modern times. Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz is considered one of the most innovative works of Weimar Germany. It's collage-like form and stream of consciousness narrative drive the reader into the metropolis of Berlin in the 1920's exploring all its complexity. In 1983 Werner Rainer Fassbinder released his film adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz which gained a cult following. Susan Sontag penned an appreciation of the film, and Michael Mann and Francis Ford Coppola have cited it as one of their greatest influences. This evening utilizes both novel and film to bring us closer to the life and work of Alfred Döblin and the Weimar Period. The issues explored will include:
Berlin Alexanderplatz: The Story of Franz Biberkopf - by Adrian Daub
"'Berlin Alexanderplatz' is a story of crowds and groups — what they sound like, how they behave, and above all what it means to join them or stand apart from them. Crowding on busy streets was an important feature of what Georg Simmel called metropolitan 'mental life'. Döblin's figures, in 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' and elsewhere, find that being part of a crowd can open a new world to them, but can also be deeply disconcerting. At the end of 'the Story of Franz Biberkopf', the novel’s ambivalence about crowds attains an explicitly political dimension — the collectivism of the convulsive final years of the Weimar Republic rears its head. When Rainer Werner Fassbinder came to stage the many crowd scenes in his monumental 1980 adaptation of Döblin’s novel, this association was as central to his look back as it had been to Döblin’s look forward."
The Punishment Begins: Döblin and Crime in Weimar Germany - by Thomas Haakenson
"The Punishment Begins: Döblin and Crime in Weimar Germany" explores the early twentieth century context of Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz. Notorious as an era of sexual and social liberation, the period of the Weimar Republic -- roughly 1919 to 1933 -- was also ripe with criminal activity. Understanding this radical period in Germany history, as well as its important role in Berlin Alexanderplatz, means coming to grips with the ways in which supposed criminality could also serve socially subversive functions."
KINOSTIL: Doblin's Mirror, Fassbinder's Reflection - by Deniz Göktürk
The use of montage technique in capturing the disjointed simultaneity of city life, what Döblin himself called "Kinostil," is explored to bring forth themes and pathologies inherent to the Weimar Period. Passages from Doblin's text are brought into conversation with scenes from Fassbinder's rendering. The novel is seen as a meditation on the rise of fascism.
TBA : by Mel Gordon
Adrian Daub is Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at Stanford University, where he directs the Program in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies. He is the author of Tristan’s Shadow: Sexuality and the Total Work of Art (2013), Four-Handed Monsters: Four-Hand Piano Playing and Nineteenth Century Culture (2014) and (with Charles Kronengold) The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism (2015). His essays and cultural criticism have appeared in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Zeit in German, and in n+1, The New Republic and the Los Angeles Review of Books in English."
Deniz Göktürk is Associate Professor and the Department Chair in the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley. Her publications include a book on literary and cinematic imaginations of America in early twentieth-century German culture: Künstler, Cowboys, Ingenieure: Kultur- und mediengeschichtliche Studien zu deutschen Amerika-Texten 1912-1920 (1998) as well as seminal articles on migration, culture, and cinema. She co-edited an anthology of contemporary Turkish literature, Jedem Wort gehört ein Himmel(1991, with Zafer Senocak) and translated novels by Aras Ören and Bilge Karasu. She is co-editor of The German Cinema Book (published by the British Film Institute in 2002, co-edited with Tim Bergfelder and Erica Carter). Göktürk has been coordinator of the Multicultural Germany Project and has organized workshops and conferences such as "Rethinking Diversity in Europe and the USA" and "Goodbye Germany? Migration, Culture, and the Nation State." Germany in Transit. Nation and Migration, 1955-2005, a co-edited sourcebook growing out of this project, was published in 2007 by University of California Press. An updated German edition Transit Deutschland: Debatten zu Nation und Migration was published by Konstanz University Press in 2011. The co-edited volume Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe? (2010, in Turkish 2011), grew out of an interdisciplinary conference at Berkeley, assembling perspectives from urban studies, anthropology, film, literature, and media arts. She is one of the co-founders of TRANSIT, the electronic journal launched by the Berkeley German Department in September 2005.
Mel Gordon is Professor Emeritus of Directing, Acting, History of Theater in the Theater Dance and Performance Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Dada Performance; Erik Jan Hanussen; Expressionist Texts; The Grand Guignol: The Theatre of Horror and Terror; Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell’Arte; Mikhoels the Wise; The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber; The Stanislavsky Technique in America; The Stanislavsky Technique: Russia; Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin; and co-writer of Meyerhold, Eisenstein and Biomechanics: Actor Training in Revolutionary Russia as well as one hundred and thirty articles and entries on American, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Yiddish theater and cinema. He is director of over twenty productions in Frankfurt, Houston, New York City, Paris, and Zurich. Former Associate Editor of The Drama Review. He has taught at Lee Strasberg Institute, Michael Chekhov Studio, New York University, and Yale University.
Thomas Haakenson is Associate Profess of Critical Studies and Visual Studies at California College of the Arts. He is coeditor of the series German Visual Culture and Chapter Advisory Board member to the U.S. Fulbright Alumni Association. He has been published widely, including in New German Critique, Cabinet, Rutgers Art Review, German Studies Review, and the anthologies Legacies of Modernism and Memorialization in Germany Since 1945. He has authored or edited several volumes, including Representations of German Identity, Spectacle, and Jürgen Habermas and the European Economic Crisis: Cosmopolitanism Reconsidered.