Geek Speak explores the allure of modern-day Berlin

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, January 31, 2018/Categories: College of Liberal Arts, Community, Events, Faculty, 2018

What is the allure of a city whose most iconic monument is the crumpled remains of a wall that once separated its East from its West? Since the turn of the millennium, Berlin has been one of the most popular cities in the world. Why, however, in an elusive question.

In his Geek Speak, “Berlin Now: A Portrait of a City after the Wall,” Dr. Adam Blackler, assistant professor of history at BHSU, will attempt to address these questions from personal experience living in Berlin, grounded in his expertise in German history. The public has two opportunities to engage in this speak: Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. at the Jacket Zone in downtown Spearfish and Thursday, Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. in Jonas 110. All Geek Speaks are free and open to the public.

“When most think of Berlin, they probably think of everything from the Berlin wall to the Nazis, which is understandable,” says Blackler. “But on the other hand, it is the fastest growing, most cosmopolitan city in Europe—one that is constantly reinventing itself.”

Blackler shares that, while the dark history of the city draws people to its sites, the strides the community has taken to rebuild its structure, without the walls and barriers, make it an inviting environment. “As any student or faculty member could tell you, all I ever do is talk about Germany, especially Berlin. I lived there for two years, fell in love with the city—both with its history and its quirkiness,” shares Blackler.

This lecture style presentation will be complemented by photos and videos, and every image in the presentation is Blackler’s own, taken during his time living in or visiting Berlin.
Blackler says he hopes to highlight the way Germany, including Berlin, has taken in many refugees in crisis since World War II.

“Berlin really serves as an example of what I hope all places and all countries could do. This is a place that has been at the epicenter of arguably the most evil political party ever,” Blackler says. “Yet, walking around its capital today, everything you see is a reflection of this part of history. Not glorifying it, but honoring the memory of every group of people that suffered during the Nazis regime. It’s that way to serve as a testament to what could happen and to what did happen.”

Blackler has a Ph.D. in modern European history, a specialty in German history and subfield in modern African history. He was a research fellow and dissertation student at the Free University of Berlin.

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines. Some Geek Speaks will be presented at the Jacket Zone store located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish.
Upcoming Geek Speaks:
  • Feb. 8: “America’s Favorite Carnage: Selling Wilderness Ordeals as Spectacle” by Dr. Timothy Steckline, professor of speech
  • Feb. 15: “Fano-Plane and Di-Graph Poetics: Intersections of Math and Poetry” by Dr. Dan May, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, associate professor of English
  • Feb. 22: “A little more than kin and less than kind” by Dr. Amy Fuqua, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Graduate Studies and professor of English
  • March 1: “Trash Has Two Parents: The Person Who Threw It and the Person Who Walked by…” by Dr. Jami Stone, professor of mathematics education
  • March 15: “Wonder Woman, Board Breaking and Performance Art” by Naomi Even-Aberle, instructor of mathematics
  • March 22: “The Geometry of Redistricting,” by Daniel Swenson, associate professor of mathematics
  • April 5: “Sustainability, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Making the Connection” by Petrika Peters, sustainability coordinator for BHSU
  • April 12: "Rebel Girl: Celebrating a Century of Exchange Between American Popular Music and Feminism” by Dan May, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg, professor of sociology
  • April 19: "Avi Jain: Science, the expert problem, and mass hysteria” by Max Marc, professor of business
  • April 26: “From Bach to Braindrill: Exploring the similarities between Metal and Classical music and fandom” by David Berberick, professor of music
  • TBA: University Honors Capstone Defenses
To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email

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