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Asta von Schröder


Dr. des. Asta von Schröder
Leuphana Universität
Lüneburg College
Scharnhorststraße 1
21335 Lüneburg



Images and Messages in the Embellishment of Metropolitan Railway Stations (1850 – 1950)

By the end of the nineteenth century, metropolitan railway stations epitomized the spirit of the new age of technology: the buildings were functional, but sported nevertheless a rich program of statues, frescoes, stained glass windows and bas-reliefs that mirrored the belief in technology and industrial progress.
The dissertation project focuses on the pictorial embellishment of West European and North American railway stations dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the heyday of the railway age. It concentrates on three goals:
First, it aims to establish the topics which were seen fit for the decoration of a train station and to sort them into iconographical clusters. Embellishments depict the beginning of mass tourism, the changed perception of time and space, the new infrastructure or the technological and economic progress fostered by the railway. But stations also reflected the national mythologies used for political reasons, for instance in the era of nation building or fascist propaganda. Stations were also frequently seen fit as lieu de memoire as can be seen by their many monuments and memorials.
Second, these theme clusters are set into their artistic, historic, and cultural context. The challenge consists in balancing the general inclination to depict certain topics with the locally determined idiosyncrasy of the specific example.
The reciprocal relationship of the place “Railway Station” and its embellishment will be a leitmotif in this research: on the one hand, the railway and its technology, workers, tools and vehicles becomes itself a subject of depiction. On the other hand, the place determines an object’s iconological meaning.
Third, the found messages shall be examined for their communicative value– were they understandable for their audiences? Do they reflect general trends in the academic commissioned art? To what degree is pictorial embellishment influenced by insights won from the applied arts and industrial design schools?
The dissertation is rooted in the field of art history, but draws from insights of disciplines as diverse as transport history, anthropology, psychology or marketing communication theory.

Curriculum Vitae

September - December 2006
Visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York
Since January 2005
DFG-Fellow at theTransatlantic Graduate Research Program Berlin – New York; Thesis: „Images and Messages in the Embellishment of Metropolitan Railway Stations (1850 – 1950)“
April 2003 –December 2004
Diverse teaching positions at the University of Tübingen: Department of Art History (Intro to academic writing and research), Department of Economics (Rhetorics) and International Language Programs (German as a Foreign Language)
September 2002 – March 2003
Continued study of Japanese language at the Doshisha University Kyoto. Teaching position for German as a Foreign Language at the Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes Kansai in Kyoto
October 2001 – July 2002
One year post-graduate program „Japanese Language and Culture in Tübingen and Kyoto“ University of Tübingen/Doshisha University Kyoto
July 2001
Double Master’s degree in Art History and General Rhetoric, University of Tübingen.
Master’s thesis advised by Prof. Peter K. Klein titled „Quel spectacle hideux! mais quel beau tableau!“ - Die Ästhetik des Erhabenen in Géricaults „Floß der Medusa“ (The sublime in Géricault’s „Raft of the Meduse“)
October 1996 – July 2001
University of Tübingen: General Rhetoric, Art History and Philosophy

Publications, Lectures etc.

"Hafen, Hochsitz, Kernkraftwerk, Klärwerk, Kohlekraftwerk, Kraftwerk, Lotsenhaus, Schlachthof, Schrein, Solarkraftwerk, Stauwehr, Talsperre, Wasserkraftwerk, Werft, Windkraftwerk." In: Lexikon der Bautypen: Funktionen und Formen der Architektur, ed. Ernst Seidl. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2006.

"„Quel spectacle hideux! mais quel beau tableau!“: Die Ästhetik des Erhabenen in Géricaults Floß der Medusa." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 69 (Juli 2006): 342–57.

"In the image of the Grand Tour: Railway station embellishment and the origins of mass tourism." The Journal of Transport History 28, no. 2 (September) (2007): 252–71.

"La perception panoramique : concepts de tourisme urbain et notion d’urbanité dans une peinture murale à la gare de Paris-Lyon." Revue d'histoire des chemins de fer 38, no. printemps (2008): 45–58.

"A German View of American History?: Winold Reiss’s mosaics at Cincinnati Union Terminal, 1931 – 33." In: American Artists in Munich: Artistic Migration and Cultural Exchange Processes, ed. Christian Fuhrmeister, Hubertus Kohle, and Veerle Thielemans. München: Deutscher Kunstverlag, voraussichtlich August 2009.

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