Why “Kracauer Lectures”?

The “Kracauer Lectures in Film and Media Theory” pay tribute to the Frankfurt-born philosopher, sociologist, and writer Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966), one of the 20th Century’s most influential thinkers in the fields of film and media theory. At the same time, the title of the series refers to the role that Frankfurt and its university played in founding the critical reflection on film and technical media in the 20th Century.

The goal of the series is to present innovative contemporary scholarship on film and media from the fields of film and media studies, art history, cultural studies, and aesthetic philosophy. Moreover, the lecture series aims to contribute to the development and expansion of the fields of film and media studies, the most rapidly growing humanities disciplines in Germany.

The legacy that the Kracauer lectures receives from their namesake includes a perspective on film as an occasion and object of thought at the borders of cultural and social theory and an intuition that film and even all technological image-based media do not simply represent social relations, but increasingly shape and structure them. In accordance with this intuition and in keeping pace with current developments in film and media studies in Germany and beyond, the series opens up beyond aesthetic positions to include perspectives from the study of science, theories of technology, cultural and media economics, and political theory.

Finally, by honoring Kracauer, the series also honors a theorist who was at the same time a critic. Jean Starobinski noted that the task of criticism in relation to theory consisted in opposing the grey monotony of theory in favor of a sense for the work's inconsistency and its transgression of rules. Starobinski further noted that criticism itself has to turn into a work, taking on all the risks that that implies (“se faire œuvre elle-même et courir les risques de l’œuvre”). Rather than reducing the work to an example of a theoretical position, Kracauer mastered the art of developing theory out of the work and thereby of actively engaging with its risks. The contributions to the “Kracauer Lectures” will continue in this tradition.