Marco Abel's Profile Image
Willa Cather Professor of English and Film Studies and Department Chair
Courtesy Professor in Department of Communication Studies

As a researcher and teacher, I am particularly interested in theorizing social relations—and how, in particular, cinema and literature, engage them—from what one might call, following French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, an a-signifying perspective. Rather than assuming that images and literary signs primarily re-present a preexisting world against which we can measure and evaluate their meaning, veracity, morality, and political viability, I approach images and signs—and the social relations that give rise to them—from the idea, articulated by Jean-Luc Godard, that images are first and foremost “just images, not just images”: images and signs have force and do things, but they do not—at least not primarily—bear or represent meaning; images and signs work by their constitutive intensities and affects rather than by re-presenting something in a way that may or may not be just or justified. Hence, the question I like to ask about images and signs—and social relations—is less “What does it mean?” than “How does it work?” and “What does it do?” These questions ultimately guide my teaching and research alike.

 

In my research, I originally focused on American literature and cinema, but since my arrival at Nebraska (2004) I have primarily focused on the history of German cinema. to date, I am the author of three books and over eighty articles, interviews, translations, and reviews, as well as co-editor of seven books, three journal issues, dossiers, or sections, and the University of Nebraska book series Provocations (together with Roland Végső). The American Academy in Berlin awarded me a semester-long research fellowship in fall 2019.

 

My most recent monograph, Mit Nonchalance am Abgrund: Das Kino der “Neuen Münchner Gruppe” (1964 – 1972) (transcript Verlag, 2024), is the first book-length study of what was one of the most interesting movements in German cinema between 1964 and 1972. I argue that the art of these films was to look the neoliberal abyss that was only emerging at the time in the proverbial eye and still remain calm. My book highlights the affect of nonchalance in these films and presents it as an aesthetic attitude that embodied a leftist attitude that not only criticized the “political left” of the time from the left but also playfully exposed emerging social changes to critical consideration. For this first-ever analysis, I also let the filmmakers themselves have their say in form of extensive conversations that I conducted with them over the years.

 

My earlier books are The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School (Camden House, 2013), which won the 2014 German Studies Association Book Prize, and Violent Affect: Literature, Cinema, and Critique After Representation (University of Nebraska Press, 2007). I am also the co-editor of several books, including, with Jaimey Fisher, of New German Cinema and Its Global Contexts: A Transnational Art Cinema (Wayne State UP, 2025) as well as The Berlin School and Its Global Contexts: A Transnational Art Cinema (Wayne State UP, 2018). Other books I co-edited include, with Aylin Bademosy and Jaimey Fisher, Christian Petzold: Interviews (UP of Mississippi, 2023); with Christian Gerhardt, Celluloid Revolt: German Screen Cultures and the Long 1968 (Camden House, 2019); with Chris Wahl, Michael Wedel, and Jesko Jockenhoevel,  Im Angesicht des Fernsehens: Der Filmemacher Dominik Graf (text + kritik, 2010); and, with Jess Poli and Timothy Schaffert, More in Time: A Tribute to Ted Kooser (U Nebraska P, 2021). With Roland Végső, I co-edit the book series Provocations (U Nebraska Press). I have also published numerous essays on German cinema and interviews with German film directors in several edited volumes as well as journals such as Cineaste, German Studies Review, New German Critique, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and Senses of Cinema.

 

Find out more about my work at www.marcoabel.com

Education

Ph.D. (2003), Pennsylvania State University

M.A. (1997), Pennsylvania State University

B.A. (1995), Georgia State University

Areas of Interest

Film Studies, with a specialization in Film Theory, European Cinema, and American Cinema

Critical and Literary Theory, with a specialization in French post-structuralism and the Frankfurt School

Contemporary American Literature, with a specialization in fictional expressions of violence