The films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder are not only important landmarks in the “New German Cinema” but on an international level they have also become iconic for the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1960s and its multiple political and social fractures. Due to his early death at the age of 27, Fassbinder’s filmmaking career was regrettably short. Between his first feature film (Love is Colder than Death, 1969) and the final film before his death (Querelle, 1982) he was an extremely prolific director, who made more than 40 films as well as television series and theatrical plays in these turbulent thirteen years. With the aid of regular collaborators, including actors such as as Hanna Schygulla, Ingrid Caven, Irm Hermann, Günther Kaufmann, Harry Baer und Kurt Raab, Fassbinder cinematic œuvre represents a unique combination of formal invention and political radicalism, and not only dealt with the contemporary reality of the German nation, with a focus on questions of gender roles, sexuality, migration and class relations, but also entailed a critical grappling with its fascist past. Furthermore, Fassbinder’s artistic output was closely linked with his dramatic personal biography and controversial media persona, which he developed in interviews and other public appearances. In this seminar, we will principally focus on a critical analysis of his films, locating within the intersections of cinema, politics and personal relationships.
This summer school seminar will incorporate ten sessions over the space of two weeks (one session per day, Monday-Friday). The times of the sessions are still to be determined, but will be staggered to allow students in different time zones the opportunity to participate in the course. Each session will include a film screening, a one-hour seminar on the film and 30 minutes of work in small groups (3-4 students) in collaboration with the Deutsches Filmmuseum und Filminstitut and the Fassbinder Center, now located in Frankfurt am Main. The latter will also involve guest appearances from researchers and collaborators from the Fassbinder Foundation, who will introduce students to the resources offered by this institution. Discussions will be conducted over Zoom, and the films will be available via a password-encoded Vimeo channel.
The course comprises 28 contact hours (8*3.5 hours). Upon successful completion, 4 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) points will be awarded for the module. A single ECTS point is defined as the equivalent of 25 to 30 hours of student workload. This includes class hours, additional preparations for class activities, readings, assignments as well as final assessments.
In order to successfully complete this module, students are required to:
- attend at least 80% of the synchronous teaching sessions and group work meetings
- evaluation will comprise a presentation and an essay
- the presentation will be conducted in class and involve a brief presentation of one of the films
- the essay will be 5-10 pages long, and focuses on a topic of the student’s choice in discussion with the lecturer
Assessment and award of credit points will be on a pass/fail basis, no grades will be given.
Dr. Daniel Fairfax
Dr. Daniel Fairfax is a Post-Doc researcher at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, and an editor of the online film journal Senses of Cinema. His research focuses on film theory in the post-1968 period, and his two-volume monograph The Red Years of Cahiers du Cinéma (1968-1973) is forthcoming from Amsterdam University Press.