Current Institutional Affiliation
Founding Editor, University of Pennsylvania

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2002
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
German, University of Wisconsin / Madison
The Rhetoric of Transparency in the New Berlin: A Critical Genealogy (Adorno, Benjamin, Kracauer)

The study I would like to conduct is an interdisciplinary genealogy of the concept of "transparency" or "Transparenz," one of the dominant metaphors in political and aesthetic discourses surrounding what has become known as "das neue Berlin." My project looks back to the work of the Jewish-German philosophers and social critics Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno to ask how their analysis of Berlin and its new glass architecture in the 1920's and 30's might add perspective to the city's restored cultural and political significance, as well as its revival of Weimar-era building philosophies, following reunification. Their work, and my own, seeks to combine architectural criticism with an intense awareness of literary form, rhetoric, and the political stakes involved in shaping a city's identity. I ask where the concept of "transparency" originates, why it has such widespread cultural and political appeal, and how it might best be realized in order to truly further democratic ideals.