International Symposium
Politics of Form,
Forms of Politics

Session 5: Critique and Practice Volker Pantenburg, Christa Blümlinger, Sulgi Lie

Saturday 9:30-12:30

Volker Pantenburg (Freie Universität Berlin),
“Repercussions of a debate: Cahiers vs. Cinéthique in Filmkritik

Jean-Louis Comolli’s and Jean Narboni’s seminal essay “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism” was quickly translated to English and had an enormous impact on anglophone media theory and film studies. Surprisingly enough, it never appeared in German. Notwithstanding, the arguments and conflicts within Cahiers du cinéma and its rival journal Cinéthique left their traces in the German magazine Filmkritik which, itself, underwent crucial changes in 1969/1970. In my paper, I want to delineate the relations between the journals and their respective contexts and revisit some of these debates. In particular, I aim to relate them to the specific blend of para-institutional research that characterized Filmkritik in the 1970s. To do this, another influential Cahiers text comes into focus: the collectively written analysis of John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln, published in 1970 and translated for Filmkritik in January/February 1974, at another important juncture of the journal.

Christa Blümlinger (Université de Paris-VIII),
“Critical Activity as Utopia”

This paper proposes to discuss, on the basis of the “post-utopian” aspects of contemporary art, certain “utopian” aspects of 1970s film criticism. If the position defended and debated within Cahiers du cinéma was always seen to be linked with a film culture (ciné-clubs, public forums) and film production, comparable positions also exited in Germany. But the references are not the same, even if they inhabit a common territory, what Serge Daney called the “house of cinema”.

Christa Blümlinger is Professor of Cinema and Audiovisual studies at the UFR Arts, Philosophie, Esthétique at Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis. Her publications include the edition of writings of Harun Farocki (in French) and of Serge Daney (in German) and books about essay film, media art, avant-garde cinema and film aesthetics. She is also member of the “Permanent Seminar on History of Film Theories” founded by Francesco Casetti (Yale University) and Jane Gaines (Columbia University), an international network of film scholars exploring systematically the field of film and media theories.

Sulgi Lie (Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn),
“Political Modernism or Late Modernism? Film Criticism, Jameson and Aesthetic Historicity”

This talk examines the aesthetic historicity of modernism within film theory. In comparing the political modernism of the Cahiers du Cinema with Fredric Jameson’s version of a “late modernism“ Here, I will seek to show that the idea of “lateness“ ought not to be confused with a mode of post-revolutionary melancholia, but is of key importance to a politics of form that can be viable after the period of political modernism.

Sulgi Lie is presently a visiting professor in media studies at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. The English translation of his book The Outside of Film: On Political Film Aesthetics (Amsterdam University Press) is forthcoming.