Critics like to describe contemporary film culture as “post-cinematic”: In a process of “relocation,” film has migrated to sites that cannot be fully understood through the dispositif of cinema alone, circulating instead in a variety of social and cultural arenas. New forms of moving image production beyond the standard feature film are (and have long been) emerging – from “amateur” video clips on YouTube to long-form “quality” television shows. Film, especially in these new configurations, functions as an important reference for theater, the visual arts and literature. The term “post-cinema” designates the stakes for film theory: It opens up a perspective beyond the narrative of loss and mourning for a specificity of the medium, which is tied to the dispositif of cinema, the indexical nature of the photographic image, and a canon that has also been called into question.
Rather than merely retelling this narrative of supposed loss, the loss of medium specificity, the Graduiertenkolleg (research collective) “Configurations of Film” will address the question of what comes after the “post-cinematic condition.” How can we move beyond the aesthetic and ontological primacy of the triad of dispositif, index and canon in our thinking about film? What are the alternatives to the established dichotomies of film study, from “theatrical vs. non-theatrical” and “artistic vs. non-artistic” to “canonical vs. noncanonical” and “center vs. periphery?”
The aim of the Kolleg is to train excellent PhD students who will ultimately contribute toward the development of new, productive research paradigms for the next generation of film and media scholars. The program combines approaches from American Studies, Film Studies, Media Studies, Musicology, Philosophy and Theater Studies at the Goethe University, Frankfurt, and brings the neighboring universities of Mainz, Marburg and Mannheim as well as the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main (University of Art and Design) into the scholarly network. It builds on three master programs at Goethe University as well as on long-standing collaborative projects and efforts among the participating senior researchers. PhD students in the program will benefit from world-class library holdings at the Goethe University, Frankfurt and the German National Library, as well as from affiliations with the German Film Institute and the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Wiesbaden. In addition, the Kolleg collaborates with the film studies departments at Yale University and Concordia University.