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Photo of Inga Pollman, taken by Sarah Boyd

Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, German

2011, Ph.D. Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago

2004, M.A. Film Studies, Free University Berlin & M.A. German Literature, Humboldt University Berlin


My scholarly work focuses on the history of film theory. My primary interests are the intersections of film, science and philosophy, as well as the place of the moving image within aesthetic theory. As a consequence, my work often explores interdisciplinary connections between film studies, history and theory of science, philosophy, art history, and literary studies. I have written on vitalist conceptions of life in German and French film theory and practice from the 1910s to the 1960s, as well as on Russian cinema, melodrama and contemporary global art cinema. My current project analyzes how mood, medium and milieu interact in European art cinema and film theory.

Profile on the Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages and Literatures:



  • Cinematic Vitalism: Film Theory and the Question of Life (Amsterdam University Press, Film Theory in Media History, 2018)


Selected Articles and Chapters:

  • “The Forces of the Milieu: Angela Schanelec’s Marseilleand the Heritage of Michelangelo Antonioni.” A Transnational Art-Cinema: The Berlin School and Its Global Contexts, eds. Marco Abel and Jaimey Fisher (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2018).
  • “Zum Fühlen gezwungen: Mechanismus und Vitalismus in Hans Richters Neuerfindung des Kinos.“ In: Mies van der Rohe, Richter, Graeff & Co.: Alltag und Design in der Avantgardezeitschrift G. v. Karin Fest, Sabrina Rahman, Marie-Noëlle Yazdanpanah. Vienna and Berlin: Turia+Kant, 2014.169-176.
  • “Invisible Worlds, Visible: Uexküll’s Umwelt, Film, and Film Theory.” Critical Inquiry39:4 (Summer 2013). 777-816.
  • Kalte Stimmung, or the Mode of Mood: Ice and Snow in Melodrama.” Colloquia Germanica43:1-2 (2010), published April 2013. Special Issue: Cold Fronts. Kältewahrnehmungen in Literatur und Kultur im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. 79-96.


  • Visiting Professor (Teach@Tübingen) at the Deutsches Seminar, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Summer Semester 2016)
  • Visiting Professor at the Graduate Research Program “Mediale Historiographien – Media of History / History of Media” (Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Universität Erfurt, and Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena), Weimar (June-July, 2012)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Dissertation-Year Fellowship, University of Chicago (2010-11)
  • Franke Institute for the Humanities, Affiliated Doctoral Fellow, University of Chicago (2010-11)

Courses Taught:

  • (CMPL 143) History of Global Cinema
  • (CMPL 240) Introduction to Film Theory
  • (CMPL 150) Fear, Love, Laughter and Loss–Film Genres and Spectatorship
  • (GERM 250/WGST 250) Women in German Cinema
  • (GERM 267/367) Contemporary German and Austrian Cinema
  • (GERM 266) Weimar Cinema
  • (GERM 880) rotating graduate seminars in film studies
  • (GSLL 69) First-Year Seminar: Laughing and Crying at the Movies