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Author: Johannes von Moltke
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2016-06-21
"Siegfried Kracauer is today considered one of the key thinkers of the twentieth century. During the Weimar Republic, he established himself as a trenchant theorist of film, culture, and modernity, now often ranked alongside his friends Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno. When he arrived in Manhattan aboard a crowded refugee ship in 1941, however, he was virtually unknown in the United States and had yet to write his best-known books, From Caligari to Hitler and Theory of Film. In this study, Johannes von Moltke details the intricate ways in which the American intellectual and political context shaped Kracauer's seminal contributions to film studies and shows how Kracauer's American writings helped shape the emergent discipline in turn. Through archival sources and detailed readings of Kracauer's work, von Moltke reconstructs what it means to consider Siegfried Kracauer as the New York Intellectual he became when he settled in Manhattan for the last quarter century of his life. Here, he found an institutional home at the MoMA film library, contributed to communications and propaganda research under the aegis of the Rockefeller Foundation, and published in the influential "little magazines" of the New York Intellectuals. Adopting a transatlantic perspective on Kracauer's work, von Moltke demonstrates how he pursued questions that animated contemporary critics from Adorno to Hannah Arendt, from Clement Greenberg to Robert Warshow: questions about the origins of totalitarianism and the authoritarian personality, about high and low culture, about liberalism, democracy, and what it means to be human. From these wide-flung conversations and debates, Kracauer's own voice emerges as that of an incisive cultural critic invested in a humanist understanding of the cinema."--Provided by publisher.
Author: Gertrud Koch
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2000-03-27
Siegfried Kracauer has been misunderstood as a naïve realist, appreciated as an astute critic of early German film, and noticed as the interesting exile who exchanged letters with Erwin Panofsky. But he is most widely thought of as the odd uncle of famed Frankfurt School critical theorists Jürgen Habermas, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Max Horkheimer. Recently, however, scholars have rediscovered in Kracauer's writings a philosopher, sociologist, and film theorist important beyond his associations--and perhaps one of the most significant cultural critics of the twentieth century. Gertrud Koch advances this Kracauer renaissance with the first-ever critical assessment of his entire body of work. Koch's analysis, which is concise without sacrificing thoroughness or sophistication, covers both Kracauer's best-known publications (e.g., From Caligari to Hitler, in which he gleans the roots of National Socialism in the films of the Weimar Republic) and previously underexamined texts, including two newly discovered autobiographical novels. Because Kracauer's wide-ranging works emerge from no rigidly unified approach, instead always remaining open to unusual and highly individual perspectives, Koch resists the temptation to force generalization. She does, however, identify recurring tropes in Kracauer's lifetime effort to perceive the basic posture and composition of particular cultures through their visual surfaces. Koch also finds in Kracauer a surprisingly contemporary cultural commentator, whose ideas speak directly to current discussions on film, urban modernity, feminism, cultural representation, violence, and other themes. This book was long-awaited in Germany, as well as widely and well reviewed. Now translated into English for the first time, it will fuel already growing interest in the United States, where Kracauer lived and wrote from 1941 until his death in 1966. It will attract the attention of students and scholars working in Film Studies, German Studies, Comparative Literature, Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Philosophy, and History.
Author: Siegfried Kracauer
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 1997
This study explores the distinctive qualities of the cinematic medium. It includes an introduction which examines "Theory of Film" in the context of Kracauer's extensive film criticism from the 1920s, and provides a framework for appreciating its significance in contemporary film theory.