People / Emeriti

Anton Kaes

Anton Kaes

Class of 1939 Professor of German and Film & Media

Research Areas

Modernism/modernity; Weimar cinema and culture; trauma and memory; 20th century German literature, film, and avant-garde; film theory and media archaeology; Frankfurt School; German exiles; film noir; photography and temporality

5415 Dwinelle

Recent Courses

German-Jewish Encounters in German, American, and Israeli Cinema; Media Theory: Benjamin and Kracauer; Early German Film Theory; Cinema of Crisis, 1929-1936; German Exiles and Film Noir; The Essay Film; Cinema, Trauma, War; The Time of the Image: Photography and Temporality; Film Historiography; Slow Reading: Studies in German Modernist Prose


After his 1973 PhD from Stanford University, Professor Kaes taught German and Comparative Literature as well as Film Studies at the University of California at Irvine, serving as Director of Comparative Literature from 1978 to 1981. In Berkeley since 1981, he holds a joint appointment between German and Film & Media. He served as Director of the Film Studies Program from 1990-98 and was Chair of the German Department from 2001-2006.

Kaes was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Research Grant (1978), an Alexander v. Humboldt Foundation Fellowship (1984/85; 1986/87); a Guggenheim Fellowship (1989/90), an NEH Research Fellowship, a UC President’s Research Fellowship (1995), and the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize for 2005/06. He was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Center for Art History and the Humanities in 1989/90, at the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio in 1998, at the Zentrum für Literaturwissenschaft in Berlin in 2000, and at the IFK (International Research Center for Cultural Studies) in Vienna in 2001. At UC Berkeley, he received a Distinguished Teaching Award in the Humanities in 2010.

Besides teaching modern German literature, cultural theory, German film history, photography and film theory, Kaes is also affiliated with the Critical Theory Program where he regularly offers seminars on the Frankfurt School. He was director of four NEH Summer Seminars for College Teachers (1989-1994) and is co-director of the bi-annual German Film Institute since 1985. He taught a Master Class at the University of Amsterdam and workshops in Jerusalem, Seoul, Vienna, Berlin, and Cambridge University. He was a Visiting Professor at the Australian National University in Canberra (1995), Harvard University (1999), and Tel Aviv University (2008).

Kaes has served as a consultant to modern art exhibitions at LACMA, MoMA, SFMoMA, and to programming at the Bologna Film Festival and the Silent Film Festival in Pordenone as well as the Criterion DVD collection. He also served on the Editorial Board of the PMLA, German Quarterly, and New German Critique, among others. Since 1994, he is co-editor of the 50-volume book series “Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism.”

Selected publications


From ‘Hitler’ to ‘Heimat’: The Return of History as Film. Harvard UP, 1989
Geschichte des deutschen Films, co-ed. with Wolfgang Jacobsen and Hans Helmut Prinzler. J.B. Metzler, 1993 (2nd ed., 2005).
The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, co-ed. with Martin Jay and Edward Dimendberg, UC Press, 1994.
M. British Film Institute, 2000 (2nd ed. 2001).
A New History of German Literature, co-ed. with David Wellbery, Judith Ryan, et al. Harvard UP, 2004.
Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005, co-ed. with Deniz Göktürk and David Gramling. UC Press, 2007.
Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Persistence of War. Princeton UP, 2009
(Winner of the German Studies Association/DAAD book prize in 2010 and the MLA Scaglione Prize for “outstanding scholarly work” in 2011).
The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907-1933, co-ed. with Nicholas Baer and Michael Cowan. UC Press, 2016. (Winner of the Award of Distinction from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies in 2017).


“The Debate about Cinema: Charting a Controversy (1909-1929).” New German Critique no. 40 (Winter 1987): 7-33.

“The New Historicism: Writing Literary History in the Postmodern Era.” Monatshefte no 84 (Summer 1992): 148-58.

“Holocaust and the End of History: Reflections on Syberberg.” In Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the ‘Final Solution’. Ed. by Saul Friedländer. (Harvard UP, 1992), 206-222.

“German Cultural History and the Study of Film: Ten Theses and a Postscript.” New German Critique no. 65 (Spring/Summer 1995): 47- 58.

Leaving Home: Film, Migration, and the Urban Experience.” New German Critique no. 74 (Spring/Summer 1998): 179-192.

“A Stranger in the House: Fritz Lang’s Fury and the Cinema of Exile.” New German Critique no. 89 (Spring/Summer 2003): 33-58.

“Zwischen Parodie und Phantasmagorie: Das ‘Paradies’ in Werner Herzogs Fata Morgana.” In: Paradies: Topografien der Sehnsucht. Ed. by Claudia Benthin and Manuela Gerlof. (Böhlau 2010), pp. 231-248.

Siegfried Kracauer: Film Historian in Exile.” In: Escape to Life: German Exiles in New York. Ed. by Sigrid Weigel and Eckhart Goebel (De Gruyter Verlag, 2012).


Deutschland Builder
A New History of German Literature
The Promise of Cinema
Shell Shock Cinema
The Weimar Republic Sourcebook
From Hitler to Heimat
Transit Deutschland
Germany in Transit