Summer Film Institute

Summer Film Institute

POSTPONED to 2021!

We will re-post a call for applications in the fall!


Authority and Alterity in East German Movies: Political Experiments, Rebel Youth and Civil Unrest   


This weeklong interdisciplinary inquiry will focus on representations of political experiments, "whistleblowers," youth rebellion and state authority—and of their complex interplay—while remaining mindful of a historical context marked by political changes and a state that attempted to both undermine and re-appropriate reform impulses. Screenings, readings and workshop discussions will explore differences between dissent and alterity as socio-political manifestations, as well as how the example of the GDR can function as a springboard for discussions of artistic and personal responses to other political systems, past and present.


During one intensive week, Institute participants from different disciplines will discuss a selection of readings and view East German films in various genres to address topics such as:

  • Film and media imaginings: utopia and social reform
  • Filmic representations of alterity, authority and dissent
  • Rebellion, civil unrest and youth subcultures
  • Law and order, institutional practices and diffuse forms of authority
  • Movies as both tools of the state and vehicles for change


The Institute will be co-directed by Mariana Ivanova and Seth Howes. The keynote lecture will be presented by Mark Fenemore, who will also be present throughout the Institute.

  • Mariana Ivanova is an associate professor of German film and media studies at UMass Amherst. Her monograph Cinema of Collaboration: DEFA Coproductions and International Exchange in Cold War Europe (Berghahn Books, 2019) foregrounds the East German film studio as a key site for cooperative practices at a time of profound ideological division. Her current project re-thinks "heritage cinema" in relation to the recent proliferation of of historical films about private lives impacted by political rivalries and transborder movement during the Cold War.
  • Seth Howes is an assistant professor and director of graduate study in German at the University of Missouri. He is the author of Moving Images on the Margins: Experimental Film in Late Socialist East Germany (Camden House, 2019) and editor, with Cyrus Shahan and Mirko. M. Hall, of Beyond No Future: Cultures of German Punk (Bloomsbury, 2016). His current work involves Peter Weiss and the Cold War.
  • Mark Fenemore (Manchester Metropolitan University) is a social and cultural historian who began by studying GDR subcultures (Halbstarken and Beat fans), then branched out into the history of sexuality, before exploring everyday experiences of education and policing. He is the author of Sex, Thugs and Rock'n'Roll: Teenage Rebels in Cold War East Germany (Berghahn Books, 2009) and Fighting the Cold War in Post-Blockade, Pre-Wall Berlin: Behind Enemy Lines (Routledge, 2019). His latest work explores American mass culture as invasive, parasitic memes undermining and corroding communism.

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