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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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Feuilleton articles published during the Weimar period (1919–1933) in major Berlin newspapers captured the dynamics of the era. Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the November revolution of 1918 provoked the hurried transition from Hohenzollern monarchical rule to relatively liberal republican life. The birth of the Weimar Republic gave rise to complex socio-political and cultural transformations in Germany, and Berlin went from being imperial seat to headquarters of a new democratic regime. The contrast between pre-revolutionary Wilhelmine Berlin and the industrial modernity that characterized the Weimar capital was a particularly important subject in journalistic writing. The interwar years were a time of vast change, and feuilleton articles – short, subjective accounts falling between literary narrative and journalism – were granted a privileged position in the wealth of print media available in Berlin. They became one of the vehicles to offer a sense of reorientation in altered times, providing impressions of daily life in interwar Berlin.

This book examines the depictions of Berlin in feuilleton articles of the 1920s and early 1930s in order to determine how individual authors ‘map’ the city on the page. Informed by concepts from contemporary spatial theory, the study embarks on a close reading of the journalistic oeuvres of Joseph Roth (1894–1939), Gabriele Tergit (1894–1982) and Kurt Tucholsky (1890–1935) to gain fresh insights into the authors’ narration of the history, society and politics of the Weimar Republic. The three writers under discussion make for compelling case studies. As...

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