Journal article Open Access
Thomas Elsaesser and film studies
Mirosław Przylipiak in his essay paints a comprehensive picture of Thomas Elsaesser’s professional development as a scholar of film and media studies. The paper also concentrates on his organizational activities, focused on promoting audiovisual culture, which unveil his broad intellectual pursuits. Przylipiak investigates Elsaesser’s academic background, drawing attention to his major areas of contribution to film studies: the history of German cinema, classical and post-classical American cinema, and film theory. With regard to the latter, the essay discusses Elsaesser’s original, multidisciplinary approach that combines various scholarly orientations in order to situate film within broader discussions in philosophy, anthropology, art history, media studies, and cultural studies. It highlights that Elsaesser creatively draws from many methods without fully subscribing to any of them, and in doing so he manages not to fall into theoretical contradictions. The article navigates the reader toward Elsaesser’s numerous organizational activities. It focuses on his institutional work which led to the establishment of several educational programmes and the creation of a book series dedicated to film and media at the University of Amsterdam. The paper then outlines Elsaesser’s contribution to the ongoing discussion on contemporary complex film narratives, which he called mind-game films. In this context, Przylipiak focuses on the issue of agency, as one of the dominant and recurring issues explored by Elsaesser in his large body of work on films, particularly with regard to his studies on mind-game films. The essay ends with reflections on Elsaesser’s philosophical understanding of film’s ontological status and his reflections on film studies as academic discipline.