Professor Erica Carter
Professor of German
Tel +44 (0)20 7848 2128
Address Department of German
King's College London
Room 5.21 Virginia Woolf Building
London WC2B 6LE
Research Interests and PhD supervision
Erica Carter began her academic career at the University of Birmingham working across German and Cultural Studies, the latter at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. She took time out of the academy in the mid-1980s to co-found, with Chris Turner, the translation cooperative Material Word. Following two subsequent years as Director of Talks at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London, Erica returned to academic life in 1989, with posts at the University of Southampton (1989 - 1995), the University of Warwick (1995 - 2011), and King's College London (2011-). Erica has published extensively on German cinema and cultural history, including works on gender and consumption (How German is She? 1997), German cinema (The German Cinema Book, 2002), Third Reich film aesthetics (Dietrich’s Ghosts, 2004) and early film theory (Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory, 2010).
She is currently working on a book project on 'life as melodrama' = a history of the place of cinema in expatriate and emigre communities in the British colonial territories during the early years of decolonisation and Cold War. Erica has held visiting fellowships at the University of the Witwatersrand (2015) and the Cinepoetics Center for Advanced Film Studies at the Free University Berlin (2017-). She is currently visiting Honorary Professor of German at the University of Nottingham; she chairs the UK German Screen Studies Network (GSSN), and is working via the GSSN with partners in Germany, Sweden and Hungary on a major collaborative research project on expanded audiovisual heritage. Erica Carter began her academic career as a PhD student at the University of Birmingham working across German and Cultural Studies, the latter at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. She took time out of the academy in the mid-1980s to co-found, with Chris Turner, the translation cooperative Material Word. One major translation was Klaus Theweleit's Männerphantasien/Male Fantasies. She then worked as Director of Talks at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London, before taking academic posts at the University of Southampton (1989 - 1995) and Warwick (1995 - 2011). She has published extensively on German cinema and cultural history, including works on gender and consumption (How German is She? 1997), German cinema (The German Cinema Book, 2002) and Third Reich film aesthetics (Dietrich’s Ghosts, 2004).
Her current research focuses on the early film theory of Béla Balázs, and on German-speaking exile audiences in Britain and the Empire after 1933.
- German-language cinema
- Film history and sensibility
- Gender and consumption
- Feminist cultural studies
- Expanded film heritage
- Cinema and the colonial subject
Erica's PhD and subsequent monograph on gender and consumption in post-1945 West Germany, How German is She? Postwar West German Reconstruction and the Consuming Woman (1997), was an interdisciplinary study that drew on cultural theory, economic and social history, and textual analyses of representations in fashion, the popular press and film to offer an account of women’s place as consumers in the regeneration of the German economy after World War II. Though Erica has occasionally returned to this work, her main focus shifted in the late 1990s to German film history, the field in which she published a further monograph, Dietrich’s Ghosts. The Sublime and the Beautiful in Third Reich Film (2004), and other titles including the co-edited The German Cinema Book (2002, second edition forthcoming 2018), and Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory (2010). Her current work is encapsulated under the overarching rubric 'German in the World', a research strand that she launched in 2011 having taken up a post as Head of German at King's. Projects include a monograph on colonial melodrama that uses work on the melodramatic sensibility to explore the cultural experience of German-speaking émigrés in the British colonial territories after World War II; and a major collaborative research project on expanded audiovisual heritage, a term borrowed from the more current 'expanded cinema', and designating curatorial approaches to the audiovisual archive that emphasis translocal access and social inclusion.
Previous doctoral candidates have successfully completed PhDs under Erica's supervision on early German cinema, AIDS and cultural representation, exiles and the European Film Fund, authorship in Elfriede Jelinek, and Siegfried Kracauer and Berlin School Cinema. Erica currently (co)-supervises PhD projects on Hollywood romantic comedies and their European reception; the documentary and art practice of Jürgen Böttcher; German film under UK and US occupation in the immediate postwar; the curatorial work of Lotte Eisner; interwar British writing on Weimar Germany; and Moving Image and the Colonial Imaginary. She welcomes PhD candidates in any of her key research areas.
For more details, please see her full research profile.
- Béla Balázs: Early Film Theory (2010)
- The German Cinema Book (2002 & forthcoming 2018)
- Dietrich’s Ghosts. The Sublime and the Beautiful in Third Reich Film (2004)
- How German is She? Postwar West German Reconstruction and the Consuming Woman (1997)
- Cultural Remix: Theories of Politics and the Popular (co-eds. James Donald, and Judith Squires) (London: Lawrence and Wishart 1995)
- Space and Place: Theories of Identity and Location (co-eds. James Donald, Judith Squires) (London: Lawrence and Wishart 1993)
- Taking Liberties. AIDS and Cultural Politics (co-ed. Simon Watney) (London: Serpents Tail 1989)
For a complete list of publications, please see my full research profile.
Expertise and public engagement
Erica teaches undergraduate and postgraduate modules on German-language film history, including a new BA module, German in the World, Afro-German Moving Images, and ‘A Year in the Life of German-language Film: 1930.’ An MA module on Film History and the Cinema Experience traces the relation between film theory and aesthetics in the early part of the twentieth century, focusing particularly on Weimar film theory (Kracauer, Benjamin, Balázs) and its relation to film history as well as contemporary phenomenologies of film.
In 2012, Erica worked with colleagues at King's to launch the German Screen Studies Network. Funded by King's and the DAAD (2014-16), the GSSN runs an annual symposium as well as public and schools events relating to German-language film. Erica has also curated film retrospectives and one-off events with a range of cinemas and arts institutions, including the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), the British Film Institute, Riverside Studios, the Warwick Arts Centre, the Goethe-Institut, the Cinema Museum, the British Museum, and BAFTA. Erica also has experience of public engagement via media channels including Radio 4 and Spiegel-TV; she is happy to speak or advise on any aspect of German-language film and cultural history in which she has specialist expertise.