Critical Realism: History, Photography, and the Work of Siegfried Kracauer

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Critical Realism: History, Photography, and the Work of Siegfried Kracauer

Dagmar Barnouw


Siegfried Kracauer started his career with film reviews during the Weimar period in Germany (pre-WW2) and expanded his interests to detailed discussions of film, photography, and history, and the interactions among these disciplines. He was especially interested in how films model themselves to the tastes of their audiences, who in turn, model themselves after films, and how this shapes the evolution of the culture.Exiled in the 1930s, Kracauer lived for a while in Paris and finally settled in New York. In exile, he viewed himself as a cultural observer, a “time-traveler.” He wrote a lot about how history relates to time while photography is in the moment and totally visual.

The book seems to be about Kracauer, but Barnouw says it’s not. She says it’s about “the significance of his critical realism for cultural modernity.”

Publication DateJuly 1, 2006 ISBN: 9781932800142 Number of Pages 503
Author Biography
About the Author: Dagmar Barnouw teaches intellectual and cultural history at the University of Southern California. Her American publications include books on intellectual positions 1918-1933 (Weimar Intellectuals and the Threat of Modernity); on Arendt's political thought (Visible Spaces: Hannah Arendt and the German-Jewish Experience); on documentary objectivity in photography, journalism and histography (Critical Realism; Germany 1945: Views of War and Violence); on V.S. Naipaul's documentarism as cultural critique (Naipaul's Strangers); and on the politicized memory of WW2 in postwar Germany and America (The War in the Empty Air).
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