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Jan Uelzmann

Blurred image used as background for stylistic purposes.
Associate Professor of German
Study Abroad in Berlin Co-director

Jan Uelzmann teaches courses on all aspects of German studies, with a particular emphasis on 20th century culture, literature, and media. Before coming to UGA, he served as Associate Professor of German and Associate Chair of the School of Modern Languages at Georgia Tech. He has directed study abroad programs in Germany for over ten years and serves as the co-director (with Berna Gueneli) for the new German Film and Cultural History study abroad program in Berlin, beginning in summer 2024.

His research merges approaches from cultural history, cultural studies, film studies, and literary studies to explore questions related to post-WWII democratization, governmental media policies of the Adenauer period, Cold War politics, early images and conceptions of Europe, and the provisional capital Bonn.

His book Staging West German Democracy: Governmental PR Films and the Democratic Imaginary, 1953-1963 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019) examines how political “founding discourses” of the nascent FRG were reflected, reinforced, and actively manufactured by the Federal government through PR films produced in conjunction with the West German newsreel system Deutsche Wochenschau. He has published widely on West German postwar cultural history, film and literature, and his articles have appeared in German Studies Review, The German Quarterly, Monatshefte, Seminar, Colloquia Germanica, and Journal of Cold War Studies

Research Interests:

Book: “Staging West German Democracy” Governmental PR Films and the Democratic Imaginary, 1953-1963 

My book examines how political “founding discourses” of the nascent Federal Republic were reflected, reinforced, and actively manufactured by the West German, state-owned newsreel system, the Deutsche Wochenschau (DW). This study reconstructs the DW’s integral role in providing pro-government propaganda in a democratic media system through documentary films that the DW produced for the federal government. Dubbed Kanzlerfilme (chancellor-films), these films report on Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s political achievements, the provisional capital Bonn, or on foreign policy events, such as Adenauer’s state visits to the US, France or the Soviet Union, and on visits to the FRG by US Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. The films unabashedly celebrate Adenauer and his political achievements for the FRG. By looking at the institutional history of the DW and its close relationship to the Government Press Office (Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung), I trace the Adenauer administration’s project of maintaining a “government channel” in an increasingly diverse, de-centralized and democratic West German media landscape. In my analysis of the films, I argue that apart from providing election propaganda for Adenauer’s CDU party, these films provided an important stabilizing factor for the FRG’s project of explaining and promoting democracy to its citizens, and of defining its public image and its new capital Bonn against the Nazi past and the GDR. Combining approaches from cultural history, film studies, history, and sociology, this project will help close an evident research gap on West German newsreels and add in important ways to our understanding of the media’s role, particularly the role of propaganda, in the West German nation building process.


  • Ph.D. Germanic Studies, The University of Texas at Austin



Staging West German Democracy: Governmental PR Films and the Democratic Imaginary, 1953-1963. New York: Bloomsbury, 2019. 

Journal Articles and book chapters

"Towards Prosperity and Peace: The Beginnings of the European Project in the West German Governmental PR Film Der erste Schritt," Seminar: A Journal of German Studies, Forthcoming 2024.

“German Technology and Education for ‘Young Nations:’ The Cold  War Politics and Aesthetics of Development Aid in two West German Government PR Films of 1961.” Mariana Ivanova and Juliane Scholz, (eds). Science on Screen and Paper: Media Cultures of Knowledge Production in Cold War Europe. New York: Berghahn Press. Forthcoming 2024.

"The Wall in People's Heads: Teaching About the Long-Lingering Aftermath of the Fall of the Berlin Wall." Hiram Maxim and Katherine Arens (eds.) Celebrating Janet Swaffar: A Festschrift. Austin: Agarita Press, 2023. 111-146.

"Backlash Against Bonn: The Building Freeze in the Bonn Federal District and the 'Berlin Initiatives" of 1956", German Studies Review 46.1 (2023): 35-56.

“Foundational Narratives: West German Nation-Building through State-Sponsored PR Films, 1953-1963.” Jennifer Kapczynski and Caroline Kita (eds). The Arts of Democratization: Styling Political Sensibilities in Postwar West Germany. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2022. 209-229.

“Building Domestic Support for West Germany's Integration into NATO, 1953-1955", Journal of Cold War Studies 22.2 (2020): 133-162.

"Symbolic Homecoming of the 'Hero-Father': Realignment of National Memory in the Neue Deutsche Wochenschau Special Feature on Konrad Adenauer's 1955 State Visit to Moscow", Colloquia Germanica 45.1 (2012/15): 41-68.

"Bonn, Divided City: City Scape as Political Critique in Wolfgang Koeppen's Das Treibhaus and Günther Weisenborn's Auf Sand gebaut", Seminar: A Journal of German Studies 50.4 (2014): 436-460.



  • Provost Fellow for Faculty Development, Georgia Tech, 2022
  • Texas Foreign Language Teaching Excellence Award, College of Liberal Arts, The University of Texas at Austin, 2011
Articles Featuring Jan Uelzmann

We are pleased to announce that we are now able to offer $2,500 each to 20 students accepted to our Summer Berlin study abroad program.

We are able to provide these scholarships because of the generous support of The Halle Foundation, who has been a…

The Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies will begin offering a new study abroad program in Berlin starting July of 2024.

We are excited to announce that Dr. Jan Uelzmann will be joining UGA's Germanic & Slavic Studies department faculty as Associate Professor of German in Fall 2023. Dr. Uelzmann previously taught at Georgia Tech, where he was Associate Professor…

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