Erica Carter

Erica CarterE-mail address:
Home institution:
King?s College, London
Academic position:
Professor and Head of German
Areas of research:
German film and cultural studies
Title of the presentation: The Visible Woman in Béla Balázs


Most important Publications

  • Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory (trans. Rodney Livingstone: ed. and introduction Erica Carter) (New York & London: Berghahn, 2010). Introduction solicited for inclusion in Special Issue of online film journal Apertura on Hungarian film theory: translated as ?Balázs Béla korai filmelmélete,? Apertura, Fall 2009.
  • Dietrich?s Ghosts. The Sublime and the Beautiful in Third Reich Film (London: British Film Institute, 2004)
  • The German Cinema Book (co-edited with an introduction by Tim Bergfelder, Erica Carter and Deniz Göktürk) (London: British Film Institute, 2002)
  • How German is She? Post-war West German Reconstruction and the Consuming Woman (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997)

Title of the presentation

The Visible Woman in Béla Balázs


There has been in contemporary film studies a marked turn to writings on early cinema as sources of insight into the further transformation of the medium in the digital age. In this context, the early film theory of Béla Balázs has garnered new critical attention. Particularly influential are Balázs’s writings on film as the crucible of a larger transformation of perception and the film experience. As he famously wrote in his 1930 ‘The Spirit of Film,’ ‘the substrate of (film’s) development is the subject, the human subject in her/his social being.’ Film for Balázs had, then, the potential to form the vanguard of a socially transformative, indeed revolutionary popular culture. Those views derived in part from Balázs’s embrace first of a modernist Hungarian cultural nationalism, and later of Marxism. But the social-utopian elements of his film theory drew their impetus also from his fascination with the early twentieth-century, sexually and politically liberated New Woman. Focusing on Balázs’s connections to the poet and illustrator Anna Lesznai, the silhouette animator Lotte Reiniger, and the silent film diva Asta Nielsen, this paper explores the New Woman both as muse in Balázs’s writings, and as embodied presence in the passionate friendships he sustained with female intellectuals and artists throughout his writing life.

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