Johannes von Moltke is a scholar of cinema and film theory. He received his PhD from Duke University and came to Michigan in 1998 after teaching for four years in Germany at the University of Hildesheim.
Von Moltke's main interests lie in the history and contemporary developments of German cinema and of film theory, respectively. He has published broadly on various aspects of German cinema from Weimar through the present, with a particular focus on questions of genre (especially the German Heimatfilm), the cinema of the 1950s, and the trajectories leading from the New German Cinema of the 1960s to the international successes of the so-called "Berlin School" today. His book on the German Heimatfilm, entitled No Place Like Home, was the winner of the MLA's Scaglione Prize in 2006. Von Moltke has also pursued his interests in German cinema as the organizer of the biannual "German Film Institute," which has been meeting at Michigan since 2004 and has been devoted to topics such as "Unknown Weimar," the "Cinema of Crisis," and film around 1968.
In his work on film theory, von Moltke has been particularly interested the works of the so-called "classical" film theorists and their renewed relevance for thinking about moving images in the digital age; and he continues to be fascinated with the unique emotional power of the movies. During a year at the UM Institute for the Humanities, he brought this latter interest together with his work on German film, asking how affects and emotions play out in cinematic representations of German history: what does it mean when audiences are invited to laugh at, cry for, or sympathize with a figure such as Hitler?
Von Moltke's research on classical film theory has centered largely on well-known German-language theorists, including Rudolf Arnheim, who was still living in Ann Arbor when von Moltke arrived on campus. However, most of von Moltke's recent work in this area has been devoted to a series of three books on Siegfried Kracauer: an anthology of essays by Kracauer that von Moltke co-edited with Kristy Rawson, a recent PhD in SAC; an anthology of essays on Kracauer that he co-edited with Gerd Gemünden; and a monograph entitled Manhattan Transfer: Siegfried Kracauer, Critical Theory, and the New York Intellectuals, which situates Kracauer between the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and the New York Intellectuals of the 1940s and 50s. He hopes to complete this book, which has been supported by an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellowship and a grant from the Associate Professor Support Fund at UM, during an upcoming sabbatical in 2013/14.
Von Moltke enjoys teaching "The Art of Film," our introductory gateway course, as well as a course on Fascist Cinemas and classes on topics in German cinema, film theory, and popular culture. He regularly attends the Berlin Film Festival, about which he has also published several articles, and recently developed a mini-course on Film Festivals (together with SAC librarian Phil Hallman), which allowed SAC graduate students to explore the Toronto Film Festival and learn more about North America's longest-running independent and experimental film festival right across the street from North Quad in Ann Arbor. He hopes to build on these experiences in future research and teaching.
Recent Courses Taught
SAC 236: The Art of Film
GER 332: Kino: German Film
SAC 333: Fascist Cinemas
SAC 631: Critical Theory at the Movies