Sam Wiseman – Berlin Tour Guide

I am originally from Devon, England, but I spent my twenties in Glasgow, Scotland, where I obtained my PhD in modernist literature and landscape in 2013. I have always been fascinated by German history, philosophy, literature and culture – I wrote a Masters dissertation on Nietzsche at the University of Liverpool, and another on W.G. Sebald at the University of Glasgow – so Berlin felt like a natural next step after my years in Glasgow. Both cities are defined, among other things, by traditions of working-class politics, modernism, and cultural experimentation, and both have reinvented themselves in part through the repurposing of post-industrial spaces. As Karl Scheffler put it back in 1910, Berlin feels like a city “condemned forever to become and never to be”, which is exactly what makes it so captivating to me.

Since moving here in 2014, I have worked as a lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Erfurt, where I completed a postdoctoral research project in Gothic literature and modernity in 2019. Both this project and my PhD have been published as books by Clemson University Press. I became a tour guide in 2015 and I combine the vocations of lecturing and guiding wherever possible – for example, in teaching classes on the cinema of Weimar Berlin, and how it reflects its historical and social context. As a guide, I love explaining the social, cultural and political themes that
echo throughout Berlin’s history; I am particularly interested in how this city became one of the epicentres of cosmopolitan modernity in the mid-nineteenth century, and how the consequences of that upheaval have reverberated in myriad political, social and cultural experiments throughout the twentieth century to the present day.

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