Conference to be held at the University of St Andrews 19th-21st June, 2024
Seán Allan (University of St. Andrews), Erica Carter (King’s College London), Johannes von Moltke (University of Michigan)
Organisers: Paul Flaig and Dora Osborne
Deadline for submitting proposals: February 16th, 2024
What is the future of German Screen Studies in the face of ongoing technological transformation, heightened cultural and political strife, and historical crises at levels national, European and global? By what new methods or concepts might scholars and students, in the face of such possibilities and challenges, explore German-language cinematic, televisual, streaming or site-specific screen media, whether from the historical past, the contemporary moment or a fast-approaching future? Addressing these and other state-of-the field questions, this conference will offer a forum to consider the future of German Screen Studies. Drawing on the rich utopian vein in German thought (Adorno and Bloch, Kluge and Tawada), Leslie Adelson (2017) describes a “future sense” that allows one to perceive, in the face of historical catastrophe, not only a more hopeful time to come, but also, counterfactually, a radically different relationship to a seemingly settled past. With this “future sense” in mind, the conference organisers invite submissions creatively situated between the most recent developments, in topic, method or argument, within German Screen Studies and this field’s extraordinary legacy of scholarship, criticism and debate from across the last century, from Emilie Altenloh’s 1914 dissertation to Hito Steyerl’s The Wretched of the Screen (2012), Siegfried Kracauer to Miriam Hansen, Harun Farocki to Thomas Elsaesser.
As these and other figures suggest, the field of German Screen Studies has always had a productively porous relationship with other disciplines, from media studies to art history, sociology to philosophy, as well as to various sites of artistic, literary and political practice. It has approached German histories of the moving image as much through genre and auteur as through visual analysis and historical context, critical theory and technical medium. Through both translation and interpretation, German screen scholars have introduced a range of influential methods and concepts to the humanities at large, variously drawing on the heady intellectual and artistic culture of German silent cinema, the methods and theories of the Frankfurt School, insidious modes of fascist propaganda, debates around representation and the Holocaust, the experimentalism of numerous avant-garde movements, feminist and queer modes of documenting or dramatizing gender and desire, and archaeologies of visual media both analogue and digital. The epoch of the moving image has corresponded to Germany’s tumultuous modern history, spanning Kaisereich and Weimar democracy, Nazi dictatorship and divided, then reunified republics, with both stark divisions and underlying continuities between each era’s media landscape. This tumultuous history has required German screen scholars to navigate a complex set of moments and movements, institutions and industries: UFA and DEFA, Berlinale and Oberhausen, state-funded television and Netflix series, Autorenkino and video installation, Heimatfilm and the Berlin School. This is not to mention the varied extra-territorial links between German screen cultures and the wider world, from the circulations of emigres and exiles, immigrants and refugees to international co-productions and global media conglomerates. The current challenges preoccupying many of the Berlin Republic’s screen artists and performers—resurgent populism, technological acceleration, ecological crisis, economic precarity—might thus best be studied through an approach both transnational and interdisciplinary.
“The Future of German Screen Studies” aims to take stock of our current understanding of these and others cultures, media and histories in order to map where this field may be heading as well as offer new genealogies of those images, figures and texts that have thus far defined it. Beyond those mentioned above, topics of papers and panels may also include but are not limited to:
- German Screen Studies in the time of the Anthropocene
- Queer genealogies from Weimar culture to Fassbinder to the Teddy Award
- Animals and cyborgs, plants and things: The post-human on-screen
- The politics and practice of remembering, archiving and re-mixing German screen history
- Representations and reflections of racial and/or ethnic difference
- New media historiographies and archaeologies versus canonical chronologies and familiar periodizations
- German-language genres familiar and neglected, popular and cult
- Colonial connections and post-colonial circulations
- Documentary modes from travelogues and propaganda to essay films and experiments
- Art cinema’s institutions, auteurs and aesthetics
- The politics of gender behind the camera and below the line
- The “small” screen, from early televisual experiments to transnational streaming hits
- German Screen Studies meets German media theory (Kittler, Ernst, Vismann, Siegert)
- Avant-garde legacies across cinema, television and visual arts
- New methods of Scholarship, Criticism and Communication: Audio-Visual Criticism, Podcasting, Blogging, Social media
- Teaching and Pedagogy challenges and possibilities post-COVID, pre-AI and amidst an Anglophone crisis in language learning
A limited number of bursaries are available to contribute to travel and accommodation costs for post-graduate and early career speakers.
This event is funded by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange) as part of a three-year Promoting German Studies networking grant to the German Screen Studies Network (https://germanscreenstudies.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/), co-directed by Dora Osborne and Paul Flaig.