Thomas Elsaesser challenges in his lecture the image of the city as the key concept of modernity, as we have come to understand it thanks to the work of Walter Benjamin, Georg Simmel and Siegfried Kracauer. He will look especially at “the street” as the site of sociopolitical confrontations during the 20th century, and ask if it is still a viable space of social disruption and political dissidence, now that most major inner cities in Europe are devoted to shopping, tourism and the festival economy, and most of the networks of power are sustained by electronic flows. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film «The Third Generation» and Jacques Derrida’s concept of «auto-immunity» will be points of reference when examining the different regimes of surveillance and the ‘politics of fear’ that always emerge when social injustices, asymmetries of agency and the imbalances of debt threaten the status quo.
Thomas Elsaesser is a film historian and professor of Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. Born in Berlin, he was educated in Britain and has been teaching in European and American Universities since 1972. His essays on film theory, media history, avant-garde cinema and installation art have appeared in over two hundred collections, anthologies and journals.
His books include: New German Cinema: A History (London: Macmillan, 1989), Fassbinder's Germany: History Identity Subject (Amsterdam: AUP, 1996 – translated into German and French), Metropolis (London: BFI, 2000 – translated into German and Czech), Studying Contemporary American Film (w. W. Buckland, New York: Oxford UP, 2002 – translated into Italian and Japanese), European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood (Amsterdam: AUP, 2005), Terror und Trauma (Berlin: Kadmos, 2007), Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses (w. M. Hagener, New York: Routledge, 2010 – translated into German, French, Italian and Korean) and The Persistence of Hollywood (New York: Routledge, 2011)