Topographies of Culture: Kracauer and the Metropolis

Miriam Hansen Memorial Lecture by Andreas Huyssen
Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 4:00pm

The annual Miriam Hansen Memorial Lecture, which celebrates the founder of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, features scholars who share Hansen’s passion for intertwining history and theory in the ongoing study of cinema and media.

Following Miriam Hansen’s cutting-edge account of Siegfried Kracauer’s role as theorist and historian of film, Andreas Huyssen explores the role of the metropolis in Kracauer’s topographical approach to modern culture. Reading his canonical essays on mass culture and media in relation to his sociological analyses and literary miniatures makes the traditional opposition of high vs. low, dominant during the Cold War decades, appear as both obsolete and up to date. Kracauer’s writings may contain more stimuli for an assessment of our contemporary media world than those of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. 

Andreas Huyssen is the Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he served as founding director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society. He is one of the founding editors of New German Critique and serves on the editorial boards of several publications including October, Constellations, and Germanic. His research and teaching focus on 18th-20th-century German literature and culture, international modernism, Frankfurt School critical theory, postmodernism, cultural memory of historical trauma in transnational contexts, and, most recently, urban culture and globalization. He is the author or editor of many books including After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (1986), Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (1995), and most recently Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film (2015). 

Sponsored by the Department of Cinema and Media Studies.