Making Worlds

Affect and Collectivity in Contemporary European Cinema

Claudia Breger

Columbia University Press

Making Worlds

Pub Date: April 2020

ISBN: 9780231194198

344 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£30.00

Pub Date: April 2020

ISBN: 9780231194181

344 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£88.00

Pub Date: April 2020

ISBN: 9780231550697

344 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£30.00

Making Worlds

Affect and Collectivity in Contemporary European Cinema

Claudia Breger

Columbia University Press

The twenty-first century has witnessed a resurgence of economic inequality, racial exclusion, and political hatred, causing questions of collective identity and belonging to assume new urgency. In Making Worlds, Claudia Breger argues that contemporary European cinema provides ways of thinking about and feeling collectivity that can challenge these political trends.

Breger offers nuanced readings of major contemporary films such as Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, Fatih Akın’s The Edge of Heaven, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, and Aki Kaurismäki’s refugee trilogy, as well as works by Jean-Luc Godard and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Through a new model of cinematic worldmaking, Breger examines the ways in which these works produce unexpected and destabilizing affects that invite viewers to imagine new connections among individuals or groups. These films and their depictions of refugees, immigrants, and communities do not simply counter dominant political imaginaries of hate and fear with calls for empathy or solidarity. Instead, they produce layered sensibilities that offer the potential for greater openness to others’ present, past, and future claims. Drawing on the work of Latour, Deleuze, and Rancière, Breger engages questions of genre and realism along with the legacies of cinematic modernism. Offering a rich account of contemporary film, Making Worlds theorizes the cinematic creation of imaginative spaces in order to find new ways of responding to political hatred.
Claudia Breger’s Making Worlds is a vital contribution to the political dimensions of contemporary film and media theory. Breger’s meticulous readings of contemporary cinema create generative openings in impasses that have petrified debate over the past three decades, developing models of cinematic worldmaking for critically feeling out the possibilities of creative assemblage and collective assembly in the face of authoritarian enclosure and humanitarian crisis.
Claudia Breger’s ambitious book draws its energy from our current moment of social dissolution. She sets out to counter collective closures with a focus on affective worldmaking in cinema. Her perceptive readings range from countercultural cinema of the 1960s to contemporary films set in Turkey or Iran. Making Worlds recharges European art cinema, known for its aesthetics of critical defamiliarization, with visual pleasure and possibilities of transnational empathy.
Framing storytelling as a form of worlding or world assembly, Breger undertakes uncommon pairings of film not previously thought together, hereby unsettling inherited ways of compartmentalizing their aesthetic, social, and political significance. Making Worlds intervenes in a conjunctural moment when we sorely need compassionate and reasoned voices, calmly and carefully navigating the thicket of our global political morass with attention to the complexities of human identifications and multiple categories of belonging across shared layers of bounded earth.

About the Author

Claudia Breger is the Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her books include An Aesthetics of Narrative Performance: Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany (2012).