11 American Berlin Across the Last Century
Over the past century, many studies have been devoted to American literature set in Europe and its capitals. Scholars including D. E. Barclay and E. Glaser-Schmidt, Hans-Jürgen Diller, Hanspeter Dörfel, Elisa Edwards, Peter Freese, Walter Kühnel, Henry Cord Meyer, Martin Meyer, Georg Schmundt-Thomas, and Waldemar Zacharasiewicz have focused on Germany’s image in the American imagination, either literary or from a general standpoint of comparative imagology. Yet despite a marked increase in American fiction treating Berlin since its first designation as Germany’s capital (and an overwhelming increase in the past twenty years), few studies have targeted Berlin itself as a setting or image in American literature and popular consciousness. Those which have are almost limited to Jörg Helbig’s very general collection Welcome to Berlin: Das Image Berlins in der englischprachigen Welt von 1700 bis heute and to Christine Gerhardt’s very specific “‘What was left of Berlin looked bleaker every day’: Berlin, Race, and Ethnicity in Recent American Literature.” This paper surveys trends in the development of American literature set in the German capital from around 1900 to the present.