CFP: Media Archaeology and Nonfiction German Cinema (Due Jan 31, 2021; German Studies Association Conference; Sept 30–Oct 4, 2021)

Olivia Landry's picture
Call for Papers
January 31, 2021
Indiana, United States
Subject Fields: 
Digital Humanities, Film and Film History, German History / Studies

German Studies Association Conference
Indianapolis, IN
Sept 30–Oct 4, 2021
Abstracts due: Jan 31, 2021

CFP: Media Archaeology and German Nonfiction Cinema

One of the final areas of study film and media scholar Thomas Elsaesser (1943–2019) contributed to and helped to shape during his remarkable career was media archeology. In Film History as Media Archaeology – Tracking Digital Cinema (2016), Elsaesser brings media archaeology, that study “associated with the rediscovery of cultural and technological layers of previous media” (Ernst 2013), into deeper conversation with film and film ontology. For Elsaesser, notwithstanding its post-structuralist influence, media archaeology has taken form as a distinctly German discipline. With its critical early rumblings in the scholarship of Friedrich Kittler and the later work of Bernhard Siegert and Cornelia Vismann as well as the “Berlin” School thinkers Siegfried Zielinski, Wolfgang Ernst, and Sybille Krämer (and more could be named here), media archaeology has sedimented itself within a particular heritage and tradition. In film studies, Catherine Russell has even proposed a return to Walter Benjamin as one of the earliest pioneers of media archaeology for cinema practices, what she terms “archiveology” (2018). 

This call for papers invites proposals for a panel that seeks to explore the insights of media archaeology with German and Austrian cinematic heritage. This might render a return to the early cinema of Walter Ruttmann and others to reveal a reassuring historical continuity of disciplinary anxiety vis-à-vis the perception held by Elsaesser that media archaeology is a symptom of the “death of cinema.” It could also take us to archive-oriented cinematic excavation and the essay film mastered by Harun Farocki and more recently revived by Philip Scheffner. Finally, the self-reflexive experimental compilation films of Martin Arnold and Gustav Deutsch might also be considered here. What films alert us to their own media layers and why? How does media archaeology alter and shape the way we think about German-language cinema, especially its nonfiction traditions?

Please submit a 250-word abstract and a short bio to Olivia Landry ( by January 31st, 2021.

Given the current situation with the pandemic, it is unclear what format the 2021 GSA conference will take. At the moment, the plans are for an in-person conference.

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