Frank Kessler

Fellow from April 2008 - September 2009
Frank Kessler holds a PhD in Film and Performance Studies from the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Thesis on Metropolis de Fritz Lang: esthétique ou esthétiques in 1987). Since 1988 he has been teaching in the Netherlands, first at the Department of Film- en Opvoeringskunsten [Film Theory and Dramatics] at the KU Nijmegen, and since 1997 at Utrecht University, where he is professor of Media History since 2001. During the summer term 1996, he was a visiting professor at the Department for Media Studies, Universität Trier. For the academic year 1999/2000 he received a grant from the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD) [German Academic Exchange Service] for a visiting professorship in European Media Studies at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. He is co-founder and member of the editorial board of both montage/av. Zeitschrift für Theorie und Geschichte der audiovisuellen Kommunikation [montage/av. Journal for Theory and History of Audiovisual Communication] and KINtop. Jahrbuch zur Erforschung des frühen Films. [KINtop. Annual of Early Film Research] From 2003 to 2007, he was president of DOMITOR, an international association to promote the study of early cinema.

Research Project

Within the framework of my fellowship, I will try to inquire into the concept of media dispositive and, especially, into the materiality of its three interacting poles – technology/situational frame, text and audience. With regard to the network of objects, signs and human beings, which the concept of dispositive is based on, the aspect of the materiality of media technologies lies at the centre of my studies. My main point of departure is Jean-Louis Baudry’s analysis of the cinematographic dispositive and his recent historio-pragmatic turn to diverse audio-visual media dispositives, ranging from film and television to the digital media.