Crossing Borders: Representations in Film and Literature
Instructor: Margrit Froelich

This course explores some of the historical and political circumstances under which individuals at different points in time and place leave (or are forced to leave) their country of origin and cross borders, to start a new existence, and often, to save their lives. The first half of the course is devoted to an inquiry into several distinct periods in German and European history: Paris as the center of exile for critical thinkers from Germany in the 19th century (such as German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine); the United States as the desired land and safe haven for oppressed European minorities in the 1890s (AMERICA, AMERICA, dir. Elia Kazan, USA, 1963); the flight of Jewish refugees from Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s and early 1940s (CASABLANCA, dir. Michael Curtiz, USA, 1942; Transit, written by Anna Seghers, 1942; Night in Lisbon, written by Erich-Maria Remarque, 1962); the border between East and West Germany before 1989 as emblematic of the division of Europe in the cold-war era (BARBARA, dir. Christian Petzold, Germany, 2012). Shifting the perspective from Europe to the American continent, the course will also address the historical and political implications of the border between the United States and Mexico through discussion of a film classic depicting immigration from the south: EL NORTE (dir. Gregory Nava, USA/GB 1983).

The second part of the course will examine border crossings in the 21st century, an age of globalized migration. Selected films from the contemporary international cinema lend themselves to an exemplary study of this phenomenon in a global perspective. Films to be discussed may include: IN THIS WORLD (dir. Michael Winterbottom, GB, 2002); THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY (dir. Hans Petter Moland, Norway/USA, 2003); THE SYRIAN BRIDE (dir. Eran Riklis, Israel/France/Germany, 2004); BABEL (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu, USA/Mexico/France, 2006); THE EDGE OF HEAVEN (dir. Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey, 2007); THE VISITOR (dir. Thomas McCarthy, USA 2007); FOR A MOMENT, FREEDOM (dir. Arash T. Riahi, Austria/France, 2008); WELCOME (dir. Philippe Lioret, France, 2009); LE HAVRE (dir. Aki Kaurismäki, Finnland/France/Germany 2011); THE PIROGUE (dir. Moussa Touré, France/Senegal/Germany, 2012).
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