Seminar: German Exile Culture in California

European Traditions and American Modernity

A Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers 
Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities 
June 22 through July 31, 2009 at Stanford University
Director: Russell A. Berman

The goal of this seminar is to examine the complex cultural interactions that took place when German writers, artists and musicians who had fled Nazi Germany encountered American culture during the 1930s and 1940s. We will look at selected texts by figures such as Thomas Mann, Erika Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Theodor Adorno, Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Marlene Dietrich, Hanns Eisler and Arnold Schoenberg. There will be room to consider the contrasting exile experience in New York of Hannah Arendt and Kurt Weill. In addition, we will be able to inquire into how other Europeans in Los Angeles, especially the British expatriates, viewed the United States: Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, and Evelyn Waugh. Key themes will include Art and Politics, Culture and American Democracy, and Modernism and Mass Culture. Seminar participants will also work on their own related research projects or curriculum development. An important component of the summer is the opportunity to present work-in-progress to the seminar for productive feedback.

Applications are welcome from many fields: German Studies, American Studies, Drama and Theater, English, History, Philosophy, Film Studies, Music, Comparative Literature, Jewish Studies, Performance Studies. All seminar readings and discussions will be in English.

Feel free to direct questions to Russell Berman at