"Film History as Media Archaeology is an engaging, insightful and exactingly detailed collection of reflections on film history and film philosophy." - Thomas Sutherland, Screen 59:4 Winter 2018
Book review rezens.tfm, read the review in German here.
"A leading scholar of cinema and media, Thomas Elsaesser offers a set of theoretical coordinates for both the old and the new media, for the not nearly as dead as we thought, and definitely not as new as we were promised. In this essay collection, media change is pluralised with such flair that it gives a commanding overview of the field of media archaeology, placing it in the wider context of audiovisual culture. The detailed case studies move smoothly between films, genres and modes of expression, developing new vocabularies that are essential for current media and film studies to ensure they stay current.
Film History as Media Archaeology is a fantastic continuation and crystallisation of what the Film Culture in Transition-book series has done for so many years and over so many volumes: moved film studies into new discussions, combining new empirical insights with theoretical impact that continues to excite. Like Elsaesser, the book series of which he is the General Editor has shifted our guiding questions from the mere "what is cinema" to the critically situated practices: where and when is cinema, where and when is media, and where and when is theory?" -- Professor Jussi Parikka, Winchester School of Art/University of Southampton, author of What is Media Archaeology? and A Geology of Media.
"With its 50th installment, the Film Culture in Transition book series edited by Thomas Elsaesser for Amsterdam University Press, reaffirms its position as one of the most important and indispensable venues for film and media research in English language academic publishing. With its ground-breaking monographs and edited collections, the series has been driving the debate in our field for more than two decades now.
'Film History as Media Archaeology' illustrates the virtues and qualities of the series in exemplary fashion: A wide-ranging re-assessment of established approaches to film historiography in the light of the challenges offered by digital cinema, the book offers a pivot away from an exclusive focus on the study of canonical works to an understanding of film history as a vital thread of a broader history of media, digital and otherwise. Like so many of the previous volumes in the series, volume 50 is bound to establish itself as a text of reference in contemporary film and media scholarship." - Vinzenz Hediger, professor of cinema studies, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
"As the field of Film Studies has morphed into Media Studies, no one has better grasped the consequences and opportunities for scholarship than Thomas Elsaesser. He has deftly managed to keep the whole equation of film and media studies in his head, both in his own work and as Film Culture in Transition's series editor. The result is nothing less than an ongoing tour de force as he analyzes contemporary Hollywood cinema in one book, film theory in another, and various permutations of German cinema in still others. Continuing his commitment to Early Cinema, Elsaesser's most recent publication rethinks the terms of film history within a broader framework of media archaeology--a call that has already generated a new, vibrant arena of research and erudition. Not only is Film History as Media Archaeology impressive in its own right, as the 50th volume in "Film Culture in Transition", his book series with Amsterdam University Press, Elsaesser has deployed his acumen and rigor to nurture, shape and inspire a generation (or two) of scholars." - professor Charles Musser, Yale University
Since cinema has entered the digital era, its very nature has come under renewed scrutiny. Countering the 'death of cinema' debate, Film History as Media Archaeology presents a robust argument for the cinema's current status as a new epistemological object, of interest to philosophers, while also examining the presence of moving images in the museum and art spaces as a challenge for art history. The current study is the fruit of some twenty years of research and writing at the interface of film history, media theory and media archaeology by one of the acknowledged pioneers of the 'new film history' and 'media archaeology'. It joins the efforts of other media scholars to locate cinema's historical emergence and subsequent transformations within the broader field of media change and interaction, as we experience them today.
Thomas Elsaesser (1943-2019) was Professor of Film and Television Studies in the Department of Art and Culture at the University of Amsterdam.