The Island of Freedom and the Communist Sea

This book-length publication, which I hope will be published digitally, will examine television news accounts of the Berlin Crisis broadcast in the United States from the 1950s through the mid-1960s.

stills, Road to the Wall
Stills from the documentary Road to the Wall (1962). An edited version of the documentary was broadcast as an episode of The Big Picture during its 1962–63 season.

The events of what became known as the Berlin Crisis made world headlines and were widely covered by the press in the United States, including the news divisions of newly-established television networks. In programs such as “The Tunnel” (1962), episodes of the US Army series The Big Picture (1951–64), and the news special “The President at the Wall” (1963), all three major networks covered the Berlin Crisis and all showed a strikingly similar image of Berlin. In this image, the divisions that crossed the city—economic, political, social, even moral—are clearly manifest in its built environment.

The prevalence of this motif raises several questions. How did this depiction of Berlin’s division come to be reported so widely and, crucially, in such a consistent manner by both corporate and government media organizations throughout this period? Why was this view of divided Berlin and of the Berlin Crisis accepted as credible by the majority of the US viewing audience despite its inaccuracy? And, finally, how did the recurring image of International Style buildings in these television news programs influence the growing condemnation of architectural modernism by critics such as Jane Jacobs, which began just as the Berlin Crisis was waning?

I propose to answer these questions in a digital publication, using the Berlin Crisis as a focal point for an in-depth analysis of how the simultaneous evolution of Cold War political rhetoric, of non-fiction mass media, and of architectural modernism in the 1950s and 1960s were all mutually influential. In doing so, I ask: what was the role of architecture in filmic and televisual accounts of the Berlin Crisis and, consequently, what influence did politics and the mass media have on the evolution of architectural discourse from the 1950s through the 1960s?

Activism and Urban Renewal in the Late Cold War

The intersections between urban renewal, political activism, and cultural production in the 1970s and 1980s in three neighborhoods: SoHo, Kreuzberg, and Prenzlauer Berg.

Das ist der Bauhof
Der Bauhof Handwerkskollektiv, a squatters’ collective project in Kreuzberg, as featured in the Instandbesetzer Post in 1981.

The project I have tentatively titled “SoHo, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg: Activism and Urban Renewal in the Late Cold War” continues the research I began with Architecture Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin. With this new project, I will examine intersections between cultural production, social and political change, and urban development in the neighborhoods of SoHo in New York, Kreuzberg in West Berlin, and Prenzlauer Berg in East Berlin, from the 1970s through the early 1990s. I have chosen these three distinct neighborhoods because they were all, for different yet related reasons, allowed to deteriorate materially and economically before evolving into important centers of activism, art making, and architectural innovation. Focusing on these examples, I intend to explore the global and local forces that shaped these neighborhoods’ development, considering what is common to each, what is different, and why. Of particular interest will be the tensions between avant-garde artists and architects, in their attempts to create spaces and ways of life that are “outside” or in critique of mainstream systems of value, and the attempts, by various political and cultural authorities, to gentrify or otherwise reclaim such neighborhoods.

I have begun this work with an article and a presentation that will become an article. The first article, entitled “Graffiti and the Critical Power of Urban Space: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Made in America and Keith Haring’s Berlin Wall Mural,” explores two artworks made on the Berlin Wall and analyzes them in relation to the local politics in West Berlin at the time of each work’s creation. This article will be published in 2015, in a special issue of the journal Space and Culture, titled The Art/History of Resistance. At the 2014 annual meeting of the College Art Association I delivered a paper entitled “‘You Are Now Entering Occupied Berlin’: Architects and Rehab-Squatters in West Berlin.” This presentation will focus on an important center of exchange between architecture professionals and activist squatters: the Bauhof Handicraft Collective (Bauhof Handwerkskollektiv). Run by members of the squatter movement, the Bauhof provided a place where non-professionals could learn basic construction skills and techniques, and thus undertake “rehab-squatting.” The paper will explore both architecture-focused initiatives of the squatters movement, of which the Bauhof is one example, and the work of architects who helped squatters to renovate the apartments they had occupied.


“‘Graffiti and the Critical Power of Urban Space: Gordon Matta-Clark’s Made in America and Keith Haring’s Berlin Wall Mural.” In The Art/History of Resistance. Special issue, Space & Culture, vol 18, no 3 (August 2015).

“You Are Now Entering Occupied Berlin’: Architecture and Rehab-Squatting in West Berlin.” Centropa, vol 14, no 2 (May 2015).

A brief description of this project also appears in my 2012–13 research report [PDF], published in CASVA’s Center 33. The Center report is a yearly report on the activities of CASVA and its members.

Architecture, Identity, and Politics in Divided Berlin

A comparative study of architecture and urban planning in East and West Berlin from 1945 to 1989, but focusing on the Wall era (1961–89).

The Palace of the Republic, foyer
Youth dance at the Palace of the Republic in East Berlin, June 26, 1976. Photo by Jürgen Sindermann / ADN. Bundesarchiv Bildarchiv / Bild 183-R0706-417.

My first major research project grew out of my interest in examining buildings in relation to their larger social, economic, and political contexts, both at the moment of their completion and over time, as they enter the wider visual culture. In particular, this project examined selected building projects in East and West Berlin and considered the role of architecture in the formation of political identity within two Berlins, within the two Germanys, and within the international spheres of the Cold War east and west. Two key examples I chose to include in the study are the State Library on Potsdamer Straße (Hans Scharoun and Edgar Wisniewski, 1967–78) and the Palace of the Republic (Heinz Graffunder and collective, 1973–76; now demolished) built on the Museum Island in what was then East Berlin.

My study is unique in that I investigate popular discourses and visual culture surrounding significant public buildings in relation to official policies on design, construction, and urban development in East and West Berlin. As part of this, I looked closely at the press and film representations of particular buildings and urban spaces. For example, I analyzed press accounts of West Berlin the news magazine Der Spiegel, and considered the East German film The Legend of Paul and Paula (dir. Heiner Carow, 1973) in relation to notions of home and homeland in the German Democratic Republic. Considering popular representations of the two Berlins, and the built environment of each, allowed me to assess the significance of the divided city as a political and cultural symbol, as well as the degree to which governments’ architectural and urban planning projects were effective in “winning hearts and minds” to their cause.


Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014.

“Beyond the Berlin Myth: The Global, the Local and IBA 87.” In Berlin, Divided City, edited by Philip Broadbent and Sabine Hake, 156–167. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010. (First paperback edition, 2012.)

“The Berlin Wall and the Urban Space and Experience of East and West Berlin, 1961–1989.” PhD diss., CUNY Graduate Center, 2008.

Past Projects: Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide (2001–15)

From 2001 to 2015, I worked on one of the field’s first online scholarly journals, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.

ncaw home pageFrom 2001 to 2015, I worked on one of the field’s first online scholarly journals, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, published by Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art (AHNCA). Over the following twelve years, I produced twenty-six issues of NCAW for AHNCA, as the landscape of what became known as “digital humanities” shifted markedly. For example, what began as a website made up of static HTML pages was transformed in 2009 into a dynamic website built in the content management system Joomla.

In 2011, I worked with the Managing Editor of NCAW, Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, to secure a grant from the Mellon Foundation in support of a digital publishing and research initiative. Our primary objective in applying for this grant was to maximize the potential of our online publication format.

Fletcher and Israel, London Gallery Project (detail)
Pamela Fletcher and David Israel, London Gallery Project map (detail). Featured in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Autumn 12.

For the first four articles in the series, titled “Digital Humanities and Art History,” I served as project manager and publication developer.* I guided authors from conceptualization to the production of their scholarship and advised them as they consider various digital tools in search of those that best correspond to the particular research questions they are investigating. I also helped them consider questions of methodology related to emerging fields such as social network analysis, geographic information systems, and 3D imaging. Together with these scholars and technical specialists, I confronted issues related to using programs such as Gephi or ArcGIS as research tools and presenting the results of this research in an online publishing environment.

Under the capable leadership of journal editors and founders Chu and Gabriel P. Weisberg, NCAW continues to innovate in the field of digital art historical scholarship, maintaining its excellent reputation in the field of nineteenth-century art history.

* Elizabeth Buhe took over as project manager and Allan McLeod as publication developer for the last two DHAH articles.

Related Publications

Emily Pugh, with Elizabeth Buhe and Petra Chu. “Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide’s ‘Digital Humanities and Art History’: Reflections on Our First Articles.” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 15, no 1 (2015).

Lindsay Harris and Luke Hollis (primary authors), with Emily Pugh, Lavinia Ciuffa, and Maria Sole Fabri (secondary authors). “Imagining a Nation’s Capital: Rome and the John Henry Parker Photography Collection, 1864–1879”Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 14, no 1 (2015).

Therese O’Malley and Kathryn R. Barush (primary authors), with Emily Pugh, Jessica Ruse, and Courtney Tompkins (secondary authors). “‘In the Park’: Lewis Miller’s Chronicle of American Landscape at Mid-Century.” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 12, no 2 (2013).

As publication developer and project manager:
Jacqueline Marie Musacchio (primary author), with Jenifer Bartle and David McClure (secondary authors), assisted by Kalyani Bhatt. “Mapping the ’White, Marmorean Flock‘: Anne Whitney Abroad, 1867–1868.” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 13, no 2 (2014).

Recipient of the 2015 Article Prize, Nineteenth Century Studies Association
Elizabeth Buhe (primary author), with David Eisenberg, Nicholas Fischer, and Daniel Suo (secondary authors). “Sculpted Glyphs: Egypt and the Musée Charles X.”  Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 13, no 1 (2014).

Recipient of the 2015 ARIAH Prize for Online Publication
Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich (primary authors) with David N. Israel and Seth Erickson (secondary authors).“Local/Global: Mapping the London Art Market.” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 12, no 1 (2012).


Publishing Art History Digitally: The Present and Future, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, October 14–15, 2016
Co-convener, with Petra ten-Doesschate Chu (Seton Hall University) and Elizabeth Buhe (Institute of Fine Arts, NYU)

Panel Co-Chair, with Petra ten-Doesschate Chu: “Art Historical Scholarship and Publishing in the Digital World”
2015 College Art Association Annual Conference; New York, NY

Art History Online: Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide’s Digital Research and Publishing Initiative
(Panel: Publishing Online)
Archives of American Art, Washington DC; American Art History and Digital Scholarship: New Avenues of Exploration: November 15–16, 2013

Past Projects: CASVA (2010–14)

From 2010 to 2014, I served as the Robert H. Smith Research Associate at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, where I worked on several digital art history projects.

From 2010 to 2014, I served as the Robert H. Smith Research Associate at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The focus of my work at CASVA is the integration and application of digital research and publishing tools to the research projects of the Center’s deans.

Projects I worked on while at CASVA include:

Alberti, An Archer Shooting a Crossbow
Attributed to Cherubino Alberti (formerly Cornelis Cort) after Lelio Orsi, An Archer Shooting a Crossbow. Print. National Gallery of Art, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund. 2005.131.1.

The History of the Accademia di San Luca
Just before I arrived at CASVA, Associate Dean Peter Lukehart and his team launched The History of the Accademia di San Luca c. 1590–1635: Documents from the Archivio di Stato di Roma. This website traces the early history of the Accademia through documents that had been lost from the Accademia’s own archive, but were recovered in the city archives of Rome.

My work at CASVA has centered on two initiatives related to the Accademia project. The first was an upgrade of the current Documents site. This included developing a project proposal, including a detailed list of functionality requirements, for the NGA technical team. The goals of this project were to add features to and improve the functionality oft the site, to provide for its long-term sustainability, and to integrate it with the NGA public website. (The new site launched in 2015.) The second initiative focused on the development of an interactive, web-based map that would extend the offerings of the Documents site by placing the Accademia di San Luca within its urban context.

Lewis Miller, Guide to Central Park
Lewis Miller, “Guide to Central Park,” 2. Watercolor and ink on paper. The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI.

Keywords in American Landscape Design
As part of a research team led by Associate Dean Therese O’Malley, on the development of an online resource that researchers can use to chart the evolution of a regional vocabulary of design and the transformation of features in the landscapes of the early United States. This project was designed to support and extend the work done by O’Malley in her 2010 print publication, Keywords in American Landscape Design, from Yale University Press. Through texts and images, both the book and the online resource, the History of Early American Landscape Design Database (HEALDD), trace the changing meaning of landscape and garden terminology as it was adapted from Old World sources and transformed into an American landscape vocabulary.