Cinema Studies Colloquium, Winfried Pauleit

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 12:00pm

Winfried Pauleit (Universität Bremen)

Divas and Grandmothers: Kracauer’s Photography as Screenplay

Siegfried Kracauer’s essay Photography was published on October 28th, 1927 in the Frankfurter Zeitung. Kracauer starts his essay by analyzing two photographs, a contemporary shot of a film diva and a historical photo of his grandmother taken in 1864. This essay was appropriated as part of his critical and theoretical writing on the media that also lays out grounds for his later Theory of Film (1960). I would like to demonstrate that this essay is not only a sustained philosophical reflection on photography, but that its writing is also informed by the very techniques of the cinema: travelling shots, montages, superimpositions. My hypothesis is that Kracauer’s hidden agenda is to turn writing into a kind of screenplay – and in so doing, to transform our understanding of critical and analytical writing by means of a cinematic shift. Kracauer’s essay was published in Critical Inquiry, Spring 1993, Vol. 19, No 3, pp. 421–436, English translation by Thomas Y. Levin.

Cinema Studies Program
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