NFC Doctoral Fellow Lecture Series: If You Give a German Some Film: Three Sources and the Voyage of the Falke

When and Where

Thursday, November 24, 2022 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Northrop Frye Centre
91 Charles St. West. Toronto, ON M5S1K5


Eriks Bredovskis


What happens when a German naval captain, who travels around the world, gets his hands on a camera? This paper, taken from one chapter of my dissertation, asks that question. I follow a German cruiser, the Falke, in the Summer of 1905 when it travelled up and down the west coast of North America on a multi-year tour of the Americas. Three sets of documents remain of his voyage: his official reports to the Imperial Naval Office, his private diary, and his scrapbook. Taken separately, each set of documents narrates a very different experience in the Pacific Northwest. The official reports prioritize American and British military and economic expansion—it also portrays the region as void of women and Indigenous people. Behncke’s diary and scrapbook, however, recount the various parties Behncke attended, the landscapes he enjoyed, and the white settlers he met, thus suggesting the west coast as a lively space for socialization and forming global connections, albeit for Europeans. The postcards and personal photographs in Behncke’s scrapbook further show how cultural assumptions (German, masculine, or European) affected what he thought was worth spending valuable film on or be remembered through a commercially purchased postcard. When we look at these sources together, we see how even when Germans were visitors to non-German colonies, they behaved like it was their own. Behncke’s voyages (and these three sets of documents) provide a unique window through which we can examine the making of Germany’s ideas of a globalized and interconnected imperial world.

Contact Information


Northrop Frye Centre


91 Charles St. West. Toronto, ON M5S1K5