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Culture in the Anteroom

The Legacies of Siegfried Kracauer

Johannes von Moltke

Publication Year: 2012

Culture in the Anteroom introduces an English-speaking readership to the full range of Siegfried Kracauer's work as novelist, architect, journalist, sociologist, historian, exile critic, and theorist of visual culture. This interdisciplinary anthology---including pieces from Miriam Bratu Hansen, Andreas Huyssen, Noah Isenberg, Lutz Koepnick, Eric Rentschler, and Heide Schlüpmann---brings together literary and film scholars, historians and art historians, sociologists, and architects to address the scope and current relevance of a body of work dedicated to investigating all aspects of modernism and modernity. The contributors approach Kracauer's writings from a variety of angles, some by placing them in dialogue with his contemporaries in Weimar Germany and the New York Intellectuals of the 1940s and '50s; others by exploring relatively unknown facets of Kracauer's oeuvre by considering his contributions to architectural history, the history of radio as well as other new media, and museum and exhibition culture.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Many of the essays gathered in this volume were first presented at the 2008 conference “Looking After Siegfried Kracauer” at Dartmouth College, which laid the foundation for Culture in the Anteroom. We are grateful to the many individuals and institutions that made this...

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Introduction: Kracauer’s Legacies

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pp. 1-26

In one of many grant applications composed in exile—this one dated 14 October 1942 and addressed to the Guggenheim Foundation—Siegfried Kracauer proposed to write the “History of German Film” that would later become From Caligari to Hitler. In this proposal, he lays out a...

Patterns of Reception

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This Pen for Hire, Siegfried Kracauer as American Cultural Critic

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pp. 29-41

Over the span of a decade, from roughly 1941 to 1951—or from the moment that the former editor and lead critic of Weimar Germany’s Frankfurter Zeitung first managed to relocate himself from Vichy France to New York City to the time that his writing became more...

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Manhattan Crossroads, Theory of Film between the Frankfurt School and the New York Intellectuals

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pp. 42-60

When Siegfried Kracauer’s long-projected book on film aesthetics finally saw the light of day as Theory of Film in 1960, Kracauer’s fellow émigré Rudolf Arnheim reviewed it as “probably the most intelligent book ever written on the subject of...

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Kracauer, Spectatorship, and the Seventies

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pp. 61-75

During the 1970s Siegfried Kracauer’s work on ‹lm had a strong resonance in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG); indeed, it exercised a marked influence on the decade’s fllm culture. A central notion from his Theory of Film (1960), “hunger for life,” became the impetus...

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Highway Through the Void, The Film Theorist and the Film Actress

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pp. 76-90

In the following essay I would like to present some reflections on Kracauer’s writings on film and cinema, the starting point of which is the perception of certain lacunae, particularly noticeable against the backdrop of a history of feminist film...

Looking after Kracauer

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Kracauer’s Photography Essay, Dot Matrix—General (An-)Archive—Film

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pp. 93-110

A common reading of Kracauer’s 1927 essay “Photography” takes its most important insight to be the opposition between the photographic image and the memory image, including the claim that the proliferation of technologically produced images threatens...

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In Kracauer’s Shadow, Physical Reality and the Digital Afterlife of the Photographic Image

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pp. 111-127

A cursory reading of Kracauer’s writing on photography, as developed in his 1927 essay and then continued in the opening chapter of his 1960 Theory of Film,1 will in all likelihood situate him as a critic principally unfit to help theorize...

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Siegfried Kracauer’s Two Art Histories

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pp. 128-148

The wide-ranging and revolutionary nature of Siegfried Kracauer’s critique of interwar visual culture has only begun to come to light decades after he was working. His status in the history of critical cultural theory as the “odd uncle” of the Frankfurt School...

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Siegfried Kracauer’s Architectures

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pp. 149-165

By many accounts Siegfried Kracauer was interested in surface manifestations of consumer capitalism and what they revealed about modern subjects. Whether he encountered them on the stage, in the movie palace, on the film screen, or in the street, Kracauer...

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“Dioramas of a New World”, Siegfried Kracauer and Weimar Exhibition Culture

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pp. 166-182

Siegfried Kracauer is well known to us as a film historian, as a theorist of visual and mass culture, and as a literary author in his own right. But alongside film, photography, and literature, Kracauer fine-tuned his cultural philosophy by attending to exhibition as...

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Kracauer and Sound, Reading with an Anxious Ear

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pp. 183-196

If the texts grounded in the perceptual labor of Kracauer’s eye convey his success in reading modern urban surfaces, his ear frequently suggests frustration and failure. To provide initial indications of how one might approach Kracauer with an ear toward sound, I...

Literary Genres

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“Written by Himself”, Siegfried Kracauer’s “Auto-Biographical” Novels

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pp. 199-212

Siegfried Kracauer’s first novel, Ginster (1928), ends with an enigmatic visual image: the protagonist finds himself in Marseille, near the harbor, amid the hustle and bustle of passersby, street vendors, sailors, prostitutes, and street kids. He buys a peculiar...

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The Urban Miniature and the Feuilleton in Kracauer and Benjamin

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pp. 213-226

In the wake of Adorno, Kracauer’s urban miniatures and street texts, first published in the Frankfurter Zeitung’s feuilleton, have often been labeled Denkbilder, suggesting close proximity, if not identity with Benjamin’s writing about urban spaces. In...

Last Things Before the Last: History, Anthropology, Ethnography, Ethics

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On Natural History Concepts of History in Adorno and Kracauer

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pp. 229-243

In “Adorno and Kracauer: Notes on a Troubled Friendship,” Martin Jay reveals the tensions between Theodor W. Adorno and Siegfried Kracauer during the last years of Kracauer’s life as evidenced in memoranda Kracauer wrote about two particular...

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The “Passage” and the “Mission of Film”, Kracauer’s Investigations into Modern Realms of Experience

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pp. 244-257

Thanks to Siegfried Kracauer’s very painstakingly practiced self-documentation and self-archiving, we know of only two, perhaps three “text ghosts” that have a “discursive existence” in his correspondence but remain unlocatable as a realized text. About one of these ghosts...

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Among Other Things—a Miraculous Realist, Political Perspectives on the Theoretical Entanglement of Cinema and History in Siegfried Kracauer

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pp. 258-275

With Siegfried Kracauer, the relationship of cinema to philosophy is peculiar. Much of Kracauer’s writing is quite remote from philosophy: for the best part of his career, roughly 1920 to 1950, he was a film critic for newspapers and magazines in Frankfurt...

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The Exile of Modernity, Kracauer’s Figurations of the Stranger

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pp. 276-292

In May 1942, one year after arriving in New York, Siegfried Kracauer published his first essay on film for an American audience under the title “Why France Liked Our Films.” Finally having reached a more or less safe haven, Kracauer recalled the American films...


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pp. 293-298


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pp. 299-314

E-ISBN-13: 9780472028153
E-ISBN-10: 0472028154
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472051670
Print-ISBN-10: 047207167X

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 20 illustrations
Publication Year: 2012