Project objectives

In the first phase of the project, we examined the relationship of politics and aesthetics in Western European auteur cinema. Jacques Rancière’s ideas on politics as perception and sensory participation were a central point of reference. Looking at French Nouvelle Vague, Italian Neorealism and New German Cinema we investigated the ways in which these films enabled the experience of and reflection on the exceptional societal situation after World War II. The relationship of the individual to society was at the center of these investigations.

Our theoretical and film analytical investigations of national cinemas confirmed our hypothesis that Western European cinema was greatly influenced by American genre cinema. In the current grant phase we want to examine the other side of European cinema and investigate post-war genre cinema.  As the term connotes in film studies, we understand genre cinema to be a specific system of entertainment that structures the interplay of different poetics of affect.

We are now investigating the relationship of politics and aesthetics in Western European genre cinema. Questions of community and individuality remain at the center of our investigations. In a subproject, using Hannah Arendt’s concept of “shared common sense” (Gemeinsinn) we shall explore the ways in which genre cinema enables the experience of processes of judgment. Two other subprojects expand our historical perspective. In one we look at West German genre cinema between 1951 and 1962, the foci of the other are British and Italian B-movies of the 1950s and 1960s. These objects of study were chosen to fill a gap identified as a result of our research in the first grant period.

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