Antisemitism and Film
A History of Reception. Suggestions for the Analysis of a Complex Interrelationship
The complex of antisemitism and film has rarely been considered as an abstract connection in research to date. The research project has set the task of structuring this opaque field, focusing not on depictions of Jews, but rather on the discourse around film. Taking into account historical, sociocultural and media technology contexts, this project analyses the ways in which films that are understood to be antisemitic are discussed and what function is ascribed to the antisemitism in each case. In exploring the structures of argumentation, an analytical model guided by reception history that includes contextual factors as well as varying positions and readings will be developed. Read moreweiterlesen
If the subject ‘Jewish film’ is defined as a realm of experience at the intersection between Judaism and film, then antisemitism must also be incorporated into any analysis of the subject as a core aspect of the Jewish experience. While antisemitic depictions in film have already received a great deal of attention in research, as evidenced by numerous examples analysing National Socialist propaganda films, a study of the abstract relationship between antisemitism and film has not yet been carried out. The difficulty in arriving at a clear understanding of the subject complex is due not least to its interdisciplinary dispersal. At the same time, this interdisciplinarity represents a great opportunity to explore the subject. Following this understanding, it is the core objective of the dissertation project to collate and categorise the disparate research approaches in order to find a way to structure the set of issues. To this end, a typology of the research literature on antisemitism and film will be developed, taking into account the respective understandings of antisemitism and their disciplinary locations. This will facilitate a differentiation of the various levels on which the relationships between antisemitism and film are negotiated. They range from discursive contributions, such as film reviews, to the cinema as a location when cinemas become a stage of protest for or against certain films. While past research literature on antisemitism and film has increasingly focused on films themselves, the dissertation project proposes concentrating on discourse about film. This approach bypasses the potential pitfall of only perceiving antisemitism in (individual) films, or in the assumed mindsets of filmmakers. In contrast, this research project will focus on the processes of societal examination of antisemitism and film in order to do justice to the dynamic of antisemitism as a subject, thereby uncovering its discursive shifts. A nuanced picture of films discussed as antisemitic can be drawn regarding the question of which patterns of argumentation are used in discussions of antisemitism and film and what function is ascribed to antisemitism in each case. This will enable inclusion of the respective speaker’s position and internal Jewish discourse in addition to a consideration of the specific historical, political and sociocultural contexts. When different debates are read together, their patterns of content and structure can also bring to light differences and commonalities in the discussions; this can be used in turn to specify the meanings of antisemitism in the context of a Jewish film history.
Die Forschungsgruppe wird vom PostDocNetwork Brandenburg gefördert.