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Seminar: R.W. Fassbinder’s Whity - Addressing Race Through Hollywood Genres
Date: 9 February 2011  

You are cordially invited to attend the following talk held as part of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures' Seminar Series:

R.W. Fassbinder’s Whity: Addressing Race Through Hollywood Genres

Dr. Tim Gruenewald
American Studies programme

Date: 9 February 2011 (Wednesday)
Time: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Place: KKL812, K.K.Leung Building

Racism and post-War racial identity in West Germany are recurring themes in the oeuvre of director R.W. Fassbinder. Several of his films feature African American characters and critique the reconstruction of post-War German racial identities as for example in Veronika Voss (1982) and The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). Fassbinder’s most sustained cinematic exploration of race, Whity (1971), is an amalgam of Hollywood genres including the western and the family melodrama. It is also his only film that takes place in the United States. While Whity has been largely ignored by Fassbinder scholarship, I argue that a close reading of the film’s mise-en-sc&egrave;ne and narrative reveals much about Fassbinder’s conception of race, in particular of whiteness. A reevaluation of Whity opens up a new perspective on racial discourse in classic Fassbinder films such as Ali Fear Eats the Soul (1974) or the Marriage of Maria Braun.

Dr. Tim Gruenewald holds a Diplom (American Studies) from the University of Mannheim, an M.A. from Emory University (Film Studies) and a PhD from the University of Washington (Germanics). He is teaching film and cultural studies courses in the American Studies Programme at HKU and in the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages at CUHK. His current research focuses on constructions of whiteness in post-War German cinema. He is also interested in spaces of memory and is currently writing and producing a documentary on monuments and memorials in South Dakota. He is a contributor to the forthcoming volume The Thirties in America (Salem Press) and has published articles on David Mamet, Alexander Kluge, and Urs Widmer.


All are welcome.
For enquiries, please contact Ms. Christy Ho (

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