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In Memoriam Thomas Elsaesser

We will be screening extracts from his film The Sun Island (2017).

For his planned keynote, Thomas Elsaesser sent the following abstract:

W.G. Sebald – known to me as Max – was my colleague for nearly twenty years at the University of East Anglia, from 1972 to 1991. In the early 1980s we co-taught a course on “Weimar Cinema” and since he had his office exactly one floor below me we often exchanged greeting on the stairs. After my move to the University of Amsterdam, we stayed in intermittent contact and maintained a lively, if not always friction-free exchange. Once we were no longer colleagues, Max felt freer to express his dislike of the many things that irked him about his teaching and the administrative chores at the university. For him, I had become an academic apparatchik.  My lecture will focus on a certain belatedness, or Nachträglichkeit that hovers over Max and his writings, as well as typifying my relation with him. Yet non-synchronicity is also a key characteristic of transnational, trans-generic and inter-arts relationships, as well as a recurring mode or sensibility that makes Sebald a very contemporary writer and thinker.

Thomas Elsaesser passed away last week, while on a lecture trip to China. He was Professor Emeritus at the Department of Media and Culture, University of Amsterdam, and since 2013 taught part-time at Columbia University, New York. Among his books are The Persistence of Hollywood (New York: Routledge, 2012), German Cinema – Terror and Trauma: Cultural Memory Since 1945 (New York: Routledge, 2013), Film Theory – An Introduction through the Senses (with Malte Hagener, 2nd revised edition, New York: Routledge, 2015), Film History as Media Archaeology (Amsterdam University Press, 2016) and European Cinema and Continental Philosophy: Film as Thought Experiment (London: Bloomsbury, 2018). He is also the writer-director of The Sun Island (2017), a documentary essay film produced for German television ZDF/3Sat ( which acknowledges Sebald as one of its inspirations.

December 14, 2019 12:00 pm 1:00 pm


December 14, 2019
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
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Herengracht 470
Amsterdam, 1017CA Netherlands
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