Course Description

The Berlin Internship Seminar accompanies third-year students’ undertaking of an internship or period of practical training. The seminar offers a range of theoretical and analytical tools for thinking critically about how and why we work, and how work affects our daily lives and the places where we live. Over the course of the seminar, we will talk about contemporary ways of working and living in Berlin and beyond, asking: What do we mean when we talk about work? Do we need to love what we do? What renders work in/visible? How is work gendered and classed? How is work organized temporally and spatially, and how does that, in turn, affect a city and its residents? What distinguishes the spaces where we live and work today? Which new forms of work have emerged in Berlin recently? Which of them seem to thrive? What is the future of work?

One of the major issues we will tackle in class is the very phenomenon of unpaid internships and what it means for you to be working for free. We will address this question by discussing the precariat, creative industry, and affective labor. Drawing from Kathi Weeks’ work, we will consider what the problem with work actually is, and why we tend to define and value ourselves through what we do professionally. We will dissect Steve Jobs’ mantra (“Do what you love”), and discuss how work and love are interwoven. We will approach contemporary working cultures from an intersectional perspective, remaining sensitive to the workings of inequalities in structural, hegemonic, and interpersonal domains.

Besides in-class discussions, invited lectures, and off-campus visits, the seminar offers a platform for the regular exchange of observations, reflections, and comments on students’ internships. The assigned readings, too, will be discussed in class in the context of students’ internships. Students are required to keep an internship journal and provide regular updates on the progress of their internship.


Class 1

January 31, 2019: Your Internship: Practicalities & Expectations

his class will address the practicalities of commencing your respective internships. We will go over the internship documents for the semester: your “Internship Agreement” and the “Internship Time Sheet.” We will also discuss the course content, pedagogical goals, and grading requirements. You will be introduced to the website accompanying this class, as well as the internship journal. No readings are required for this session.

Class 2

February 7, 2019Work: Terms and Concepts

    • Andrea Komlosy, Work: The Last 1000 Years (2018). Excerpts.
  • Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976). Excerpts.

Class 3

February 14, 2019The Elephant in the Room: The (Many) Problems with Unpaid Internships

    • Ross Perlin, Intern Nation (2011). 23-41.
  • Madeline Schwartz, “Opportunity Costs: The True Price of Internships,” Dissent (2013).

Class 4

February 21, 2019: The Problem with Work

    • Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries. Excerpts.
  • Miya Tokumitsu, “In the Name of Love,” The Jacobin (2014).

Class 5

February 28, 2019: Precarization of Work

    • Guy Standing, “Defining the precariat: A class in the making” Eurozine (2012).
    • Jia Tolentino, “The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death”, New Yorker, March 22, 2017.
  • Heike Geißler, Seasonal Associate (2018). Excerpts.

Class 6

March 7, 2019: The Forms of Capital and the Creative Class

    • Pierre Bourdieu, “The Forms of Capital” (1986).
  • Richard Florida, “Cities and the Creative Class” (2003).

Class 7

March 14, 2019: Emotional Labor

    • Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Managed Heart (1983). Chapter 1.
  • Studs Terkel, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1978), “A pecking Order: Terry Mason”.

Class 8

March 21, 2019: Making a Living in Creative Industries – GUEST LECTURE (tbc)

  • Angela McRobbie, Be Creative: Making a Living in the New Culture Industries (2015), 33-59.

Class 9

March 28, 2019: Space Invaders

    • Nirmal Puwar. Space Invaders. Intro + Chapter 5.
  • Sara Ahmed. Living a Feminist Life. Chapter 5.

Class 10

April 4, 2019: The new office and co-working in Berlin

    • Nikil Saval, “New Trends in Office Design” (2014).
  • Janet Merkel, “Coworking in the City” (2015).

Class 11

April 11, 2019: Gentrification: Who owns Berlin?

    • Andrej Holm, “Berlin’s Gentrification Mainstream” (2013). 

  • Henrik Lebuhn, “Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin: Understanding the City through Crisis”, Critical Planning 22 (2015): 99-118.


Class 12

April 25, 2019: Keywords of Work workshop

  • Your readings for this session are the revised keywords from both groups currently up on the course website.

Class 13


Class 14

May 9, 2019: Work and/in the Future

    • John M. Keynes, “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.” 1930.
  • Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams, Inventing the Future. Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (2016). Excerpts.

*The schedule is subject to change. You will be informed about any changes via email. Please always update your calendar accordingly.