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Engaging the high-rise in German media culture : aspects of vertical living from 1945 to 2020 Leesing, Dorothee


This dissertation examines the way high-rise living was portrayed and documented in the press, in interactive gaming environments and fictional storytelling in West Germany between 1945 and 2020. I argue that the figure of the high-rise in West Germany served not only as a departure from the material destruction after WWII, but also as an ideological marker of a new start. This argument builds on existing research on architecture in a medial understanding, as storage as well as processor and transmitter of history. In the particular case of West Germany, these aspects are concerned with questions of memory and exile, but also with segregation and mobility. The chapters show how the cultural and social perception of the high-rise changed over the course of time. My second and third chapters focus on press outlets, which deployed photography as well as narrative strategies in order to highlight the idea of a fresh start after the war, marked by the new high-rise architecture. Chapter Four employs the genre of children’s literature in order to show the significance of segregation of indoor and outdoor spaces and its concluding ascriptions of function. Chapter Five examines an early interactive game console Game&Watch, and the game environments which rely heavily on the high-rise as a driver of the gameplay. I illustrate how the game environments and game setups filter the negative aspects of the new architecture and build it into the gameplay. Finally, Chapter Six concludes with a discussion of negative reporting in a current media context. I introduce the spatial idiosyncrasies of surveillance and liminality of the high-rise mass dwelling by analysing the narrative strategies employed in Karosh Taha’s novel Beschreibung einer Krabbenwanderung. In sum, these mechanisms of memory making, exile, segregation and mobility show the underlying tropes of the high-rise’s enmeshment with spatial effects and history. Supplementary materials available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/78932

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