Literary theory; film and media theory; aesthetics; philosophy
Martin Blumenthal-Barby studied German Literature, Philosophy, and Theory of Drama at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, at Cornell University, and at Yale University. At Rice, he serves also on the steering committee and is a core faculty member of the new program in Cinema and Media Studies.
He is the author of two books. The first one, Inconceivable Effects: Ethics through Twentieth-Century German Literature, Thought, and Film (Cornell University Press, 2013), probes the relationship between ethics and language; the second, Der asymmetrische Blick: Film und Überwachung (Wilhelm Fink, 2016), examines the link between surveillance and certain modes of cinematic spectatorship.
He is currently working on two further research projects. One explores the relationship between cinema and conceptions of “life,” while the other investigates the distinctly philosophical dimensions in the work of Hannah Arendt.
His research and teaching interests include German literature and philosophy from the eighteenth century to the present with a particular emphasis on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and aesthetics as well as German film and media theory.
- Der asymmetrische Blick: Film und Überwachung (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2016).
- Inconceivable Effects: Ethics through Twentieth-Century German Literature, Thought, and Film (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013).
- Ed., The Place of Politics in German Film (Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2014).
- "The Complicit Gaze: Michael Haneke's Cinema of Guilt", The German Quarterly 89 (2016), 202-20.
- "Counter-Music: Harun Farocki's Theory of a New Image Type," October 151 (2015), 128-50.
- "'Cinematography of Devices': Harun Farocki's Eye/Machine Trilogy," German Studies Review 38 (2015), 329-351.
- "The Surveillant Gaze: Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon," October 147 (2014), 95-116.
- "Faces of Evil: Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler," Seminar 49/3 (2013), 322-43.
- "Of Friends and Foes: Lang's Cinema of War," Krieg und Literatur/War and Literature 18 (2012), 95-118.
- "Holocaust and Herring: The Resuscitation of the Silenced in W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn," Monatshefte 103 (2011), 537-58.
- "Pernicious Bastardizations: Benjamin’s Ethics of Pure Violence," Modern Language Notes 124 (2009), 728-51.
- "'The Odium of Doubtfulness,' or the Vicissitudes of Metaphoric Thinking," New German Critique 36/1 (Winter 2009), 61-81.
- "Germany in Autumn: The Return of the Human," Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 29/1 (2008), 140-68.
- "Why Does Hannah Arendt Lie? Or, the Vicissitudes of Imagination," The Germanic Review 82 (2008), 369-88.