Sculpting Memory: Reading Berlin's Book Burning Memorial

Isabella Oppen : Comparative Literature/German Studies

Mentor: Professor Anton Kaes

What can a close reading of Berlin’s Book Burning Memorial offer to elucidate conflicts of remembering a turbulent past? Using libraries and archives in Berkeley and Berlin, Isabella will research the history and development of the current memorial; its public reception; and different uses of its location (Bebelplatz) over time. This research will also entail an in-person exploration of the memorial’s tactile and sculptural aspects, reading the memorial as an artwork confronting the past and processing history through its form within the city landscape. Isabella’s research will be grounded in scholarship on memory, commemoration, and making history tactile and present. Traumatic events are widespread, and this localized study in Berlin, while obviously not addressing all such events, offers a perspective on the process of healing and reconciliation within the cityscape.