Critical Theory, Film and Media: Where is Frankfurt Now?

The program for our 2014 Frankfurt Conference, organized by Institut für Sozialforschung and the Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft, has been released! Click here to download the program. A link to the conference campus map can be found here. There is also a text version of the program reproduced below. We look forward to seeing you Aug. 20-24 in Frankfurt!


Critical Theory, Film and Media: Where is Frankfurt Now?


An international conference, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, August 20-23, 2014


In 2010, Alexander Kluge joined forces with Adorno once again. Revisiting an unfinished joint project on the theme of coldness from 1967 Kluge and 12 more artists, scholars and experts from various disciplinary backgrounds, two of them fictional characters, released a DVD with a media mix of 31 different types of short films and 41 written texts in a booklet. Reading theory has become a collaborative effort, involving various disciplines on different platforms, dealing with unfinished projects. Kluge’s project is a sequel to another DVD of his, a follow-up to Eisenstein’s attempt to film Marx’ Das Kapital Kluge introduces this project the following way:


“The possibility of a revolution in Europe has disappeared, and with it the confidence in a historical process that can be directly shaped by people’s consciousness. With this confidence, a certain unrest and urgency have disappeared. … As if in a quiet garden we can now study strange thoughts from [x] and weird projects from [y], because they are like messages from an ideological antiquity. … One can see this as a goodbye, or as a beginning“. He goes on to say „ … The analytical instruments …are not outdated. … Sifting through the rubble of history we find useful tools.”


Now, in 2014, at a time, when the generational project of 1968, the march through the institutions under the assumption that a revolution in Europe is possible, has largely run its course, it seems about time to sift through the rubble of history, collect the tools, pick up on unfinished projects and think about new beginnings on the terrain of film and media studies as a critical discipline that have been opened up by the Frankfurt school and their kindred spirits Benjamin and Kracauer.

What, then, are the analytical instruments that the Frankfurt school provided that will be useful going forward? How did the Frankfurt School of critical theory shape the course of film and media theory in the 20th century, and how will its tools continue to shape the study and critical analysis of media and culture?

„Critical Theory, Film and Media: Where is ‘Frankfurt’ now?“ is an international conference organized by the Institut für Sozialforschung and the Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft in cooperation with the Permanent Seminar on Histories of Film Theories (




Conference administrator:

Conference organization:


Participants wishing to attend the conference without presenting should register before August 15 via e-mail at this address:



The conference has been made possible by the generous support of hessische Film- und Medienakademie, Verein der Freunde und Förderer der Goethe-Universität, City of Frankfurt, Stiftung zur Förderung der internationalen Beziehung


Conference location: Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Campus Westend []


The conference is free of charge.




Conference schedule



Wed., Aug. 20
6 p.m.

Conference Opening. Keynote 1

Thursday, Aug. 21
9 a.m. – 10:45 a.m

Session 1.1, HZ 8

Session 1.2, HZ 10

Session 1.3, HZ 11

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Plenary Panel 1, HZ 6

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Lunch break

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Session 2.1, HZ 8

Session 2.2, HZ 10

Session 2.3, HZ 11

4:45 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

Keynote 1

8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Evening event with film screening, Pupille, Mertonstraße 26-28

Friday, August 22
9 a.m – 11 a.m.

Session 3.1, HZ 8

Session 3.2, HZ 10

Session 3.3, HZ 11

11:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Plenary Panel 2, HZ 6

1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Lunch break

2:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Session 4.1, HZ 8

Session 4.2, HZ 10

Session 4.3, HZ 11

4:30 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.

Plenary Panel 3, HZ 6

8:00 p.m.

Conference dinner

Saturday, August 23
9 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Session 5.1, HZ 8

Session 5.2, HZ 10

Session 5.3, HZ 11

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Plenary Panel 4, HSZ 6

1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Lunch break

2:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Session 6.1, HZ 8

Session 6.2, HZ 10

Session 6.3, HZ 11

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Plenary Panel 5, HZ 6

6 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

Conference conclusion

9 p.m.

Conference party


Full program


Wednesday, August 20, 2014


4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Casino, Campus Westend, Foyer: Conference Registration
6 p.m. –  6:15 p.m. Conference Opening (Vinzenz Hediger, Rembert Hüser, Nikolaus Müller-Schöll)
6:15 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. Keynote 1


Gertrud Koch (Berlin) When Theory Becomes Critical

7:45 p.m.Opening reception




Thursday, August 21, 2014


08:30 a.m. – Conference registration, HZ, Campus Westend, third floor
09:00 a.m.-10:45 am. Session 1.1, HZ 8


Siegfried Kracauer and the Transformations of Film Studies


Nathaniel Brennan (New York) From Critical Theory to Process Research: Siegfried Kracauer’s Initial Studies of Propaganda Film at the Museum of Modern Art, 1941-1943


Johannes von Moltke (Ann Arbor) Siegfried Kracauer and the Invention of Film Studies


Roy Grundmann (Boston) One Shot, Two Mediums, Three Centuries: Reading Kracauer through Lumière and Farocki


Chair: Johannes von Moltke


Session 1.2, HZ 10


Between History and Obstinacy: The Labor of Film and Media


Richard Langston (Chapel Hill) The Re/Mediation of Historical Experience as Catastrophe


Matthew D. Miller (Colgate University) Eigensinn and Political Imaginaries: On Christian Petzold’s Barbara


Christopher Pavsek (Vancouer) Geschichte und Eigensinn and a Theory of the Labor in Film


Chair: Richard LangstonSession 1.3, HZ 11


Critical Theory and Media Studies



André Wendler (Weimar) Adorno’s materialism and media (studies)


Nils Peiler (Heidelberg/Frankfurt) ‘Aura revisited.’ A rereading of Walter Benjamin’s concept in reflection of contemporary mixed reality artwork practices


Ben Gook (Melbourne) Nicht mitmachen: Thomas Heise’s Material and Adorno’s aesthetics, Kluge’s construction sites and Benjamin’s allegorist


Chair: Marc Siegel

11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.Plenary Panel 1, HZ 6


How Writing Is Written: Criticism and Critical Theory


Ute Holl (Basel) Teddie and Hanns, Moses and Aron

John Mowitt (Leeds): On Trying: the Music Essay

Volker Pantenburg (Weimar): Essayism and its Discontents


Convenor: Rembert Hüser

1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.Lunch break2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.Session 2.1, HZ 8


Film as Critique, Critical Films


Guido Kirsten (Zürich/Montreal) Film as Critique


Chris Tedjasukmana (Berlin) “Organizing Pessimism:” Films as New Aesthetic Counter-Publics


Surbhi Goel (Chandigarh) Emergence of the paradigm of aural/visual/oral: multimedia essay as a trangressive thought process


Martin Brady (London) Von heute auf morgen: Straub-Huillet, Serialism and the Philosophy of New Cinema.



Chair: Adrian Martin

Session 2.2., HZ 10


Cultural Industries and Critical Temporalities


Sulgi Lie (Berlin) Death Driven. Reification and Repetition in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema


Peng-yi Tai (Taipeh) Boredom and the Endless Running Games: The Perception Economy of Temple Run


Seung-hoon Jeong  (New York/Abu Dhabi) Cinematic Agents of Divine Violence: Benjamin, Revolution or Catastrophe


Catherine Liu (Irvine) “’Unfriend’: Adorno’s “From the Stars Down to Earth” or what the 1950s Los Angeles Times astrology column might have to tell us about Social Media


Chair: Kalani Michell

Session 2.3, HZ 11


Disruptions in the Arts


Moritz Mutter (Siegen): Critical and anti-critical theories of art: Adorno, Marcuse and Luhmann


Lars Koch (Siegen): “To disturb the existing image…”. Strategies of aesthetical disruption in post-dramatic theatre


Anna Schürmer (Gießen): Interferences – Critical Perspectives on Early Loudspeaker Music


Tobias Nanz (Siegen): Cold War movies and the collapse of reason


Christoph Kleinschmidt (Frankfurt a.M.): Perturbing the reader. Adornos “Rätselcharakter” of art and the dialectical impact of contemporary literature


Chair: Lars Koch


4:45 p.m.-6:15 p.m.Keynote Lecture , HZ 6


Fabian Steinhauer (Frankfurt) Saving the Law of Images

7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.Evening program, Kino Pupille, Mertonstraße 26-28, Frankfurt am Main


Michaela Melian, “The Sounds of Frankfurt School: Kluge, Reitz and Riedl at the 1965 International Transport Fair“


Film screening: Impuls unserer Zeit, D 1959, Otto Martini



Friday, August 22, 2014


8:30 a.m. – Conference registration, HZ, Campus Westend, third floor
09:00 a.m. -11 a.m. Session 3.1, HZ 8


Critical Affectivities


Anu Koivunen (Stockholm University) Affective Legacies: Critical Theory and the Turn to Emotion


Felicity J. Colman (Manchester) Digital Feminicity, and materialist mindfulness


Peter Rehberg (Austin) „We always try to make a connection between sexuality and for instance doing dishes and psychotherapy.“ Affective Sexualities In the Queer Fanzine Butt


Annette Bühler-Dietrich (Stuttgart) On Failure: Queer Readings of the Frankfurt School


Chair: Jane Gaines

Session 3.2, HZ 10


Critical Theory and Film Theory: Historical Perspectives


Daniel Mourenza (Leeds) Walter Benjamin’s Film Aesthetics: From Charlie Chaplin to Mickey Mouse (and Beyond?)


Henriette Reisner (Munich) „Give us a soviet Mickey Mouse!” The Critical Contribution of the Frankfurt School to the Study of Soviet Animation.


Hannah Goodwin (Berkeley) Bending Time: Kracauer’s Backward Glance and Einstein’s Relativity


Inga Pollmann (Chapel Hill) “From Sea Urchin to God”— Kracauer’s Cinematic Vitalism


Chair: Johannes von Moltke

Session 3.3, HZ 11


Kluge, or The Continuation of Critical Theory by Cinematic Means


Christian Schulte (Vienna) Redemptive Critique – Counter-Production– Kairos. Alexander Kluge’s Contribution to Critical Theory Exemplified by News from Ideological Antiquity


Grégory Cormann, Jeremy Hamers (Liège) Adorno-as-memory. Inheriting, resurfacing and replaying confidence in Kluge’s late work.


Nils Plath (Erfurt) „Writing Events“ and the Critique of Actuality : Alexander Kluge’s readings of Stalingrad and 9/11


Tara Forrest (Sydney) The ‘Anti-Realism of Feelings’: Kluge’s Political Realist Aesthetic



Chair: Rembert Hüser

11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.Plenary Panel 2, HZ 6


Critical Theory and Gesture as Interruption


Reinhold Görling (Düsseldorf) Contre-effectuation: on gesture and time

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky (Bochum) Gesture and the stream of life in Benjamin and Lacan

Antonia Birnbaum (Paris) Guston Forever


Convenor: Nikolaus Müller-Schöll

1:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m.Lunch break2:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m.Session 4.1, HZ 8


Critical Theory, Feminist Film Theory and the Politics of Desire


Ulrich Plass (Wesleyan University) Framing the Subject: Film Noir and the Dialectic of Enlightenment


Matthew Garrett (Wesleyan University) Everything’s Fine: Commitment, Critique, and the Erotics of the Image


Dorothea Walzer (Berlin) Eingreifen, ineinandergreifen, begreifen: Mediation as Detour in Alexander Kluge’s Work


Chair: Eva Geulen

Session 4.2, HZ 10


Kracauer and his non/readers


Maria Tortajada (Lausanne) Kracauer/Bazin : two ontological realisms faced with the world and history



Marco Grosoli (Canterbury) Intersecting the Parallel Lines: André Bazin and Siegfried Kracauer


Adrian Martin (Frankfurt) The Dream Team: Parker Tyler and Siegfried Kracauer, from the 1940s to the 1970s



Chair: Gerd Gemünden


Session 4.3, HZ 11


Gestural Awareness


Lucia Ruprecht (Cambridge) Gestural Crisis, Gestural Recovery? An Enquiry into Heightened Gestural Awareness, c. 1924


Eszter Polonyi (New York) Gesture as Practice of Theory in Balazs and Benjamin


Josh Alvizu (New Haven) The Soviet Prehistory of Gesture & Montage


Chair: Nikolaus Müller-Schöll


4:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.Plenary Panel 3, HZ 6


Cultural Industries and the Creative Economy


John Roberts (Wolverhampton) The Political Economy of the Image

Andreas Reckwitz (Frankfurt / Oder) The dispositif of creativity: Structures and critique


Convenor: Juliane Rebentisch

8 p.m.– open endConference Dinner, Filmmuseum Frankfurt, Schaumainkai 41



Saturday, August 23


08:30 a.m. – Conference registration, HZ, Campus Westend, third floor
09:00 a.m. -10:45 a.m. Session 5.1, HZ 8


Cinema and Experience from Modernity to Digitality


Oliver Gaycken (University of Maryland) From the Mass Ornament to MASSIVE: Materiality and Contingency in an Era of Digital Technics


Johannes Geng (Mainz) The Culture Industry and Fabrication of Sensorial Perception(s) in and for Modernity


Christoph Hesse (Berlin) Shooting-booth and Merry-go-round: Adorno’s Experience of Cinema


Chair: Verena Mund

Session 5.2, HZ 10


Critical Perspectives on Creative Economies


Jyotsna Kapur  (Carbondale) Free Time: The University in the Eye of the “Creative Economy”


Mathias Kusnierz (Paris) The Frankfurt School and Theories of Counterculture: Can Hollywood be conceptualized as oppositional public space?



Jinying Li (Pittsburgh) From Habermas to Enzensberger: Media Leakage, Public Sphere, and the Curious Case of Chinese Film Piracy



Chair: Vinzenz Hediger

Session 5.4, HZ 11


History, Media, Power


Zachary Furste (Harvard) Pointing to and pointing up: Kracauer’s “Photography” beyond photography


Nicholas Baer (Berkeley) Film, Critical Theory, and the Crisis of Historicism


Drehli Robnik (Vienna) Reading/Reclaiming/Recovering Siegfried Kracauer´s Film Thinking of Nonsolutions within Postfoundationalist Political Theory



Chair: Lutz Koepnick

11 a.m.- 1 pm.Plenary Panel 4, HZ 6


Critical Feminism, Critical Queerness


Jonathan Flatley (Wayne State University) Reading for Mood

Amy Villarejo (Cornell University) Eros and Digitalization: On the Futures of Queer Television

Heide Schlüppmann (Frankfurt) The Unsettled Radicality of Adornos ´Kulturindustrie´


Convenor: Marc Siegel

1p.m.-2p.m.Lunch break2p.m.-3:45 pm.Session 6.1, HZ 8


Critical Theory and Modes of Spectatorship


Lutz Koepnick (Nashville) After Nature and Mediation? Critical Theory and Mobile Spectatorship Today


Jihoon Kim (Seoul) The Post-cinematic Dialectics of Innervation: Walter Benjamin, Harun Farocki’s Installations on ‘Operational Images,’ and a Political Art


The Reproduction of ‘Unending Sameness’ – On Commodification and Seriality in Horkheimer and Adorno’s Conception of the Culture Industry


Chair: Roy Grundmann

Session 6.2, HZ 10


The Question of Technology


Christiane Ketteler (Baltimore) Futurist Technohippies?


Cyrill Miksch (Basel) Digital Cinema, Neoliberalism, and Adorno’s Concept of “Technik”


Jane Gaines (New York) The Threat of Technological Reproducibility


Chair: Florian HoofSession 6.3, HZ 11


Negative Dialectics at

Prime Time – The Simpsons and the Creative Culture Industries or Much A’D’oh About Nothing


Thomas Klein (Hamburg/Mainz) The Simpsons in the Context of Media Industry Studies


Andreas Rauscher (Mainz) Shark Jumping or The Dialectics of Postmodern Enlightenment


Henry Keazor (Heidelberg) “The carrying out of contradictions”: Art in The Simpsons’ Imagination


Chair: Henry Keazor




4 p.m.- 6 p.m.Plenary Panel 5, HZ 6


Critical Theory, Philosophy and Film


Martin Seel (Frankfurt) On the potentials of film and other media

Sudeep Dasgupta (Amsterdam) The Aesthetics of Moving Culture in Adorno and Rancière

Thomas Elsaesser (New York) Between Autonomy and Social Fact: Cinema as Thought Experiment

Convenor: Vinzenz Hediger


6p.m.-6:15 p.m. Closing remarks

9p.m.–open end Conference party, Orange Peel, Kaiserstraße 9, 60329 Frankfurt