Research group “New Directions in Sound Studies,” Sep 27, 4:30-6:30 – with Eszter Polonyi

frauleinelseThe research group “New Directions in Sound Studies” is meeting on September 27, 4:30-6:30pm, in room 1.15B at the Department of Media Studies (BG1).

This time, we are welcoming visiting scholar Eszter Polonyi who will present some of her work on “The Sounds of Silent Cinema: Bela Balazs and Fraeulein Else (1929).” Here’s a short abstract:

This paper looks at the sudden legibility of photographed sound in the late years of the silent era. It focuses on Balázs’s adaptation of a short monologue to a silent film of the same name, Fraeulein Else (1929). Despite its promising cast and crew, the film proved disappointing, with critics focusing on the lead protagonist’s acting as the source of displeasure. The paper argues that this frustration with the actress, Elisabeth Bergner, was symptomatic of the expectation of sound during a time of technical transition. Rather than as a physical signal, Balázs aimed to conjure sound in the viewers in the form of a memory. While the film departs in significant ways from the literary original, it aligns itself quite literally with the text in segments where the protagonist has left the frame. By conjuring the memory of the original in the viewer, the film creates the impression of sound as internal to the viewer.

And extended version of the paper will be circulated before our meeting. If you would like access to the paper, please e-mail Toni Pape at

Everyone is welcome! We are looking forward to thinking with you.