At last! Apparently, some books take their time before peeking out into the world, in a Wittgensteinian fashion. This is certainly true for my Skepticism Films. Knowing and Doubting the World in Contemporary Cinema: almost ten years after I drafted my first ideas about the way in which mainstream cinema plays around with ideas of a rather philosophical provenance, the book is finally available in print and in ebook format, published by Bloomsbury. I am very happy about that – and about the wonderful design and haptics of the book. You can find more information about the book here, the link to the publisher’s homepage with additional online material is here.
Tobias Kurwinkel and I were invited for a talk at the Oldenburg symposium „farb klang reim rhythmus“ (Colour, sound, rhyme, rhythm). In our presentation „Überlegungen zur Auralität im Bilderbuch“ we sketched a way of applying our concept of aurality, originally developed for the analysis of the entanglement of sound and image in children’s film, to the analysis of picturebooks. The symposium, organized by the Forschungsstelle Kinder- und Jugendliteratur (OlFoKi, Research Center for Children’s Literature) of the University of Oldenburg, took place from november 12 to 14, and it assembled many brilliant and talented picturebook scholars as well as musicians, for instance the composer Henrik Albrecht, the conductor-researcher Reinhard Gagel, and the reseacher-publisher Christian A. Bachmann Thanks to the organizers, Mareile Oetken and Lars Oberhaus, for the kind invitation! Here is a link to the flyer of the program.
I reviewed the autobiography of Michael Ballhaus, the eminent cinematographer behind many of Martin Scorsese and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films, for literaturkritik.de. The review also works as a short overview of Ballhaus‘ life and work. Again, it is in German, but whoever’s up to it: Here you go.
Frozen is the major mainstream animation musical film of the decade, not only because it busted almost all box office records but also because it has become a veritable cultural phenomenon in its own right, particularly among children. There are many reasons for it, with the academic debate just beginning: At bottom line, it is simply a good film that manages to evolve Disney’s classical narrato-aesthetic formula in surprisingly intelligent ways. And it is perhaps the first major Disney film to really hone in to the needs of its mainly female audience without falling into the oh-so worn princess clichés fairy tale films such as Snow White, Cinderella or Enchanted are notorious for. (Yes, it’s the first: Kiss the Frog tanked at the box office, and Tangled is, for all its merits, still based on a classical „True Love’s First Kiss“ formula.)
I have written an analysis-based article on the production history, style and cultural success of Frozen for the (German-language) Lexikon des Kinder- und Jugendfilms, a cornerstone of the German children’s film research landscape. Thankfully, I have been allowed to re-publish it for KinderundJugendmedien.de, making it accessible online for everyone who wants to know more about the movie whose songs dominated the musical repertoire of kids all over the world (and, accordingly, tortured the ears of the adults who had to suffer the endless song loops of „Let it Go“ and „Do you want to build a snowman?“). You can find the article here. (It’s written in German, though.)
Comics and grapic novels are becoming a major focus of German intermedia research, and children’s media scholars are no exception. I published a small review on the academic anthology Bild ist Text ist Bild. Narration und Ästhetik in der Graphic Novel on KinderundJugendmedien.de. The volume, edited by Susanne Hochreiter and Ursula Klingenböck, collects a number of inspiring articles on various aspects in which narration and aesthetics figure in comics and graphic novels. Some scholars, such as Dietrich Grünewald or Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff, provide theoretical-historical reflections of the matter, while others attempt a more hands-on, analytic approach – some with a gender perspective. Very nice are the meta-comics of a number of comic book artists on the intricacies of thinking about comics academically. Fans of Scott McCloud’s marvelous Understanding Comics will be delighted. (The review is written in German language.)
Für die von uns herausgegebene wissenschaftliche Buchreihe „Kinder- und Jugendliteratur Intermedial“ haben Tobias Kurwinkel, Annika Kurwinkel und ich nun eine eigene Überblicksseite erstellt. Auf www.kinderundjugendliteraturintermedial.de finden Sie die wichtigsten Informationen zu den Bänden. Die Publikationen beschäftigen sich mit der Umsetzung von Klassikern der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur im Film. Bisher sind Bände zu Astrid Lindgren, Harry Potter und zum Motiv der Zeitreise erschienen. Bände zu Michael Ende und Otfried Preußler sind in Vorbereitung.
Tobias Kurwinkel, Annika Kurwinkel and I have built a website for our (German-language) academic book series „Kinder- und Jugendliteratur Intermedial“. On www.kinderundjugendliteraturintermedial.de we give an overview of the volumes published so far. All of them deal with the adaptation of classical children’s book in film. So far, we have edited or supervised volumes on Astrid Lindgren, Harry Potter, and the motif of time travel. Fortchoming volumes are devoted to the work of Michael Ende and Otfried Preußler.
Für die Tagung „Angst und Selbstermächtigung im Kinderfilm“ haben meine Kollegen Benjamin Moldenhauer, Tobias Kurwinkel und ich einen Call for Papers veröffentlicht. Die Tagung findet vom 26. bis 28. Juni 2015 am Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst statt. Bis zum 31. März können Interessenten Vortragsvorschläge einreichen. Mehr Informationen gibt es hier.
My colleagues Benjamin Moldenhauer, Tobias Kurwinkel, and I have issued a call for papers for the German-language conference „Angst und Selbstermächtigung im Kinderfilm,“ which will take place from 26 to 28 June, 2015 at the Center for Advanced Study in Delmenhorst. Abstracts can be sent to us until 31 March, 2015. More information here.
I have written a couple of short entries for the wonderful „Lexikon der Filmbegriffe“, a German-language online encyclopedia edited by Hans J. Wulff that features entries on a vast range of film studies concepts that have troubled and are still troubling film scholars across the globe. You can access the entries on Filmphilosophie, multiple-draft narrative and Auralität if you follow the hyperlinks. More entries to follow.
For the next two years, I will be an Associate Junior Fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Delmenhorst (Institute for Advanced Study) as part of a conference and publication project: Tobias Kurwinkel, Benjamin Moldenhauer and I will prepare a three-day conference on „fear and self-empowerment in children’s cinema“ (Angst und Selbstermächtigung im Kinderfilm). The results of the conference will be published in the form of a state-of-the-art handbook on the topic.
The conference will bring together film scholars, child psychologists and filmmakers who will reflect on the changing role of fear and self-empowerment as an elementary part of children’s film reception, and as a frequently overlooked aesthetic element in children’s cinema.
The Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (HWK) is a foundation of the federal states of Bremen and Lower Saxony and the city of Delmenhorst which promotes the disciplinary and interdisciplinary collaboration of internationally renowned scientists and young investigators. More information here.