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Mapping Berlin

Representations of Space in the Weimar Feuilleton

Frances Mossop

This book was the winner of the 2013 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in German Studies.

The Weimar period (1919–1933) generated an immense wealth of writings that recorded impressions of daily life in the German capital of Berlin. Literary journalism, in particular, experienced a surge in popularity at the time and played a vital role in informing the public about the ‘new world’ that was emerging after the First World War.
This book offers an original approach to the German feuilleton of the 1920s and early 1930s by exploring how authors engaged with the space of Berlin on the page. Drawing on recent spatial theory, the author focuses on the role of geography and cartography in the journalistic oeuvres of Joseph Roth, Gabriele Tergit and Kurt Tucholsky. Central to this study is an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the examination of their feuilleton articles by foregrounding spatiality within the context of literary analysis. The book demonstrates how Roth, Tergit and Tucholsky depict contemporary concerns through spatial representation, thus yielding new insights into the authors’ narration of the history, society and politics of the Weimar Republic.
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Chapter 2: The Prominence of Space: Representative Sites in the Weimar Feuilleton

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CHAPTER 2

The Prominence of Space: Representative Sites in the Weimar Feuilleton

At the turn of the twentieth century, newspapers played a crucial role in creating a particular urban cartography of Berlin. Once the city was on its way to establishing itself as a national metropolis, formerly representative sites like Unter den Linden and Brandenburger Tor receded in the journalistic imagination, and other areas deemed more characteristic of the burgeoning capital were given prominence. Newspapers reiterated time and again the elemental fascination exerted by such central locations as Friedrichstraße, Leipziger Straße or Tiergarten, and the spatial imaginary emerging as a result of repeated ‘promotion’ of certain places created a wholly different literary map of the city.1

A similar conclusion can be drawn in relation to Weimar Berlin, which in accounts of the time is conjured up by way of, and associated with, precise and seemingly symbolic spaces. Berlin in the 1920s was a metropolis of over four million people, and newspapers, in pursuit of capturing the city’s plurality, commissioned journalists to provide in-depth portrayals of Berlin’s urban spectacle. Novels from the Weimar period also show a preoccupation with metropolitan spaces. The German feuilleton thus helped devise, and added to, a new topography, privileging spaces that were perceived of as emblematic of the experience of the modern city and ignoring, like its predecessors twenty years before, districts that were more conventional and no longer deemed sufficiently thrilling.2

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