Hermann Kappelhoff Former Senior Fellow

Hermann Kappelhoff
October 2018 - March 2019


Hermann Kappelhoff has been a professor in the Department for Film Studies at Freie Universität Berlin since 2003. Since October 2015, he has been one of two directors of the Berlin-based “Center for Advanced Film Studies,” Cinepoetics. He received his PhD in 1993, with a thesis on the poetics of Weimar Auteur Cinema (published in 1995 under the title Der möblierte Mensch. G.W. Pabst und die Utopie der Sachlichkeit. Ein poetologischer Versuch zum Weimarer Autorenkino). His postdoctoral thesis on cinema’s melodramatic mode as a paradigm of artificial emotions was published in 2004: Matrix der Gefühle. Das Kino, das Melodrama und das Theater der Empfindsamkeit. In 2009/10, Kappelhoff was a Max-Kade Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, USA).
He was director and principal investigator of the Excellence Cluster “Languages of Emotion” at Freie Universität Berlin, where he also supervised several research projects. While representing Media Studies in the Council of the German Research Foundation (2007-2015), he also supervised a research project on the “Politics of Aesthetics in Western European Cinema” at the Collaborative Research Center 626, “Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits” (2007-2014), and the project “Staging Images of War as a Mediated Experience of Community” (2011-2015, funded by the DFG). He is currently head of the project “Migrantenmelodramen und Einwanderungskomödien: Medienformate deutsch-türkischer Gemeinschaftsgefühle” on media formats of a German-Turkish sense of commonality, which is part of the Collaborative Research Centre 1171: “Affective Societies - Dynamics of Social Coexistence in Mobile Worlds.” At Freie Universität Berlin, Kappelhoff is also a staff member of the Graduate School of North American Studies and of the Dahlem Humanities Center.
Dated from 2019

Fields of Research

Media Emotions and Poetics of Affect
Aesthetics and Politics of Audiovisual Images
Sense of Commonality, Genre, and History
Meaning Making and Embodiment
Cinematic Modes of Experience
Methodological Analysis of Audiovisual Images

IKKM Research Project

On the poiesis of film viewing: Filmmaking between Germany and Turkey (a case study)

During my stay at IKKM, I would like to move forward on a book project which is concerned with films and filmmakers who, in both national and international debates, are commonly labeled as “Turkish-German Cinema.” The study refers to empirical material collected over the course of several workshops with a focus group: essentially, it is based on discussion rounds that we (Nazlı Kilerci, Hauke Lehmann and I) have organized at the Cinepoetics center in February and March 2017. Our guests were three filmmakers – Buket Alakuş, Serkan Çetinkaya and Ayşe Polat –, whose work is often linked to the aforementioned label; and we were supported by several researchers of Cinepoetics, who are highly experienced in film-analytical discussion.
What is the relationship between media consumption and filmmaking? What are the audiovisual discourses one is involved in, and how do one’s own experiences change in the process of making films or videos? In what way does filmmaking contribute to an explicit positioning in relation to other media formations (Hollywood, auteur cinema, German cinema, Turkish cinema, folklore, TV, Internet)? These and other questions were at the center of our debates. Transcripts of these discussions and film-analytical studies concerned with the work of the aforementioned artists make up the basis for the book project.

Essentially, the work of the research group can be outlined as follows: While we consider the labels “Turkish-German Cinema” and “Turkish Cinema” highly problematic, as they are connected to identity politics and have therefore been subjected to critical analysis, they are – from a historical perspective – linked to cultural-political strategies by which a group of filmmakers has obtained the cultural capital to enter the German national film funding system. We inquire the strategies and poetics of this group of filmmakers with regard to de Certeau as “tactics of media consumption.” That is, our hypothesis is based on the claim that the similarities between the films and filmmakers filed under this label are not to be found on the level of representation, but rather in the ways in which the films establish forms of media experience and viewing positions within a hegemonic entertainment and art industry – forms and positions that make different modes of experience graspable in the first place. We therefore seek to reconstruct the films themselves as testimonies of a so-called “praxis of media consumption” under the conditions of heterogeneous cultural reference fields. How do cinematic images relate to other audiovisual images? How do they interact? How do they re-work and re-model other cinematic images? It is in this way that the films open up a reference field which can be described as tactical appropriation of the image worlds of audiovisual media.

Selected Publications


Kappelhoff, Hermann. Kognition und Reflexion: Zur Theorie filmischen Denkens. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018.
Müller, Cornelia / Kappelhoff, Hermann. Cinematic Metaphor. Experience – Affectivity – Temporality. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018.
Kappelhoff, Hermann. Front Lines of Community: Hollywood Between War and Democracy. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018.
Kappelhoff, Hermann. Genre und Gemeinsinn: Hollywood zwischen Demokratie und Krieg. Berlin/ Boston: De Gruyter, 2016.
Kappelhoff, Hermann. The Politics and Poetics of Cinematic Realism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

Edited Volumes

Kappelhoff, Hermann / Lötscher, Christine / Illger, Daniel (eds.). Filmische Seitenblicke: Cinepoetische Exkursionen ins Kino von 1968. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018.
Greifenstein, Sarah / Horst, Dorothea / Scherer, Thomas / Schmitt, Christina / Kappelhoff, Hermann / Müller, Cornelia (eds.). Cinematic Metaphor. Reflections on a Transdisciplinary Framework. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018.


Kappelhoff, Hermann. Visualizing Community: A Look at World War II Propaganda Films. In: Anders Engberg-Pedersen, Kathrin Maurer (eds.) Visualizing War: Emotions, Technologies, Communities. New York/London: Routledge, 2017, 133–145.
Kappelhoff, Hermann / Lehmann, Hauke. Zeitkonstruktion, Zeiterfahrung und Erinnerung im Film – Theorien filmischer Zeit. In: Bernhard Groß, Thomas Morsch (eds.) Handbuch Filmtheorie. Wiesbaden: Springer, 2017.