CFP – Berlin: Recent Images of a Metropolis in Narrative Media for Children and Young Adults

Call for Papers for Essay Collection
Berlin: Bilder einer Metropole in erzählenden Medien für Kinder und Jugendliche / Berlin: Recent Images of a Metropolis in Narrative Media for Children and Young Adults
Edited by Sabine Planka

“The city I’ve portrayed in details, has disappeared in front of my eyes: Shops have appeared in which English is the first language, restaurants, in which the food is edible, the dog’s mess has disappeared from the pavement. At first I believed that this would be short-lived and the developments would be corrected as time goes by. But then I had to realize that Berlin had changed again. I believed that writing a book 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall would present a constant image, but I was wrong.” (Hein 2015 (new ed.), p. 9/10, transl. by S.P.)

Jacob Hein’s formulation – sometimes provocative but always with a wink – when writing a traveller’s guide to Berlin shows that Berlin – both the political centre and cultural trend barometer – underlies and reacts seismographically to permanent changes. These changes have become part of literary and filmic narratives: every single media is giving birth to narrative that play out in Berlin – or make Berlin a protagonist as well. In 2006 Matthias Harder and Almut Hille stated, “More than 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin is an unknown city. […] Even for some of the citizens the ‘new’ Berlin is still a hidden secret. Besides that, outside Germany the interest in knowing much more about Berlin stems from a lively curiosity.” (Harder/Hille 2006, p. 7, transl. by S.P.)

Behind this statement lies the often asked question as to how the development of and changes in Berlin have been integrated into narrative discourses since the year 2000. Additionally, and of greater importance, is the question how the image of Berlin has changed after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany nearly 30 years ago. How is Berlin located topographically as a setting and a place where the story takes place? How have socio-political topics become part of the narration?

Associated with Harder’s and Hille’s statement, that Berlin “had to process abrupt historical changes and had to restructure its own existence” (p. 7, transl. by S.P.), the essay collection planned will focus on the metropolis Berlin in literary and film media published primarily around and after 2010, for children and young adults, that present the reader past, present and future with images and visions of Berlin. In 2007 Sylvia Schwab states in Deutschlandfunk: “Berlin has been awakened. Berlin is in. Berlin is in the middle of cultural debates. And Berlin is the topic of films, books and, over the past few years, also in children’s and young adult literature. New books written by Klaus Kordon, Gabriele Beyerlein, Waltraud Lewin, Katja Hildebrand und Reinhold Ziegler show this development“ (transl. by S.P.). 10 years after Schwab’s statement and therefore nearly 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall her statement is still relevant today: Berlin is still in, it is still central – and it is still part of the narrative for children and young adults supplemented by new topics: flight and terror are presented in addition to the motifs of coping with the past, inclusion and integration that show a successful and desirable cultural cohesion.

Possible topics are:

  • Berlin in picture books/books for children and young adults as dystopian/utopian future scenarios: How do we live in the future?
  • Berlin as a final destination for refugees and immigrants and theirs hopes for a better life
  • Berlin as a place of inclusion and integration
  • Berlin as the centre of political decisions (for example season 5 of the TV-series “Homeland”, 2015)
  • The motif of a capital city/large city/metropolis: How is city life in a large city shown?
  • Future Berlin and ecological aspects
  • Berlin as topography (in general and special districts) and special places within the city (Alexanderplatz, Tiergarten etc.)
  • Architectural characteristics of Berlin that are of relevance to the narration (for example plattenbau vs. art nouveau villa)
  • Special authors who use Berlin as a setting for their stories, for example Erich Kästner, Klaus Kordon, Gabriele Beierlein, Waltraut Lewin and many more (analysis of single works is as welcome as the analysis of the whole oeuvre of an author)

Topics other than the ones stated above are very welcome and will be considered!

The timetable for the volume is as follows:

Deadline for abstracts: October 31, 2016
Feedback: November 30, 2016 at the latest
Submission for articles (completed): May 15, 2017
Review process and feedback due to: May/June/July, 2017

Publication is planned for autumn 2017.

The essays may be written either in German or in English, the essay collection will be published bilingually. Please note that an abstract of the article and 3-4 keywords should be given in the language other than the one used for the article and shall be prefixed to the article.

If you are interested in proposing a chapter, please e-mail an abstract of 500 words and a short CV to Dr. Sabine Planka ( Your abstract should outline your hypothesis and briefly sketch the theoretical framework(s) within which your chapter will be situated. All submissions will be acknowledged. If you do not receive confirmation of receipt within 48 hours, you may assume that your email was lost in the depths of cyberspace. In that case, please re-submit. Please note that I will not include previously published essays in the collection.