Sabine Hake

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2015/2016
discipline Cultural Studies
Professor and Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture,The University of Texas at Austin

Research project

Proletarians—Class Identifications and Socialist Imaginaries in Germany, 1863-1933


The project is conceived as a two-volume project on the German proletariat as an imaginary subject in literature and film, the visual and performing arts, and the social sciences in the broadest sense. The first volume covers the period from the founding of the first German workers party, the ADAV, to the banning of the KPD and presents the material in thirty short fragments that betray its debt to Foucault’s notions of archeology and genealogy. The study’s guiding two proposition(s) can be summarized as follows: The proletariat did not exist but it had a powerful effect on the history of nineteenth and twentieth century Europe. And: The working class may no longer exist but its narratives of identity, experiments in culture, and dreams of the future have come into full view only after the death of communism. Moreover, precisely through their fundamental otherness, these proletarian fantasies are highly relevant as a historical and discourse model against which to understand the current debates on social and economic inequality and the crisis of democracy under the conditions of global capitalism.


Accordingly, the purpose of the project can be described as three-fold: to rescue from oblivion a vast body of cultural texts and practices (including academic studies) and show their relevance for the contemporary conjuncture; to argue for the centrality of emotions (both public and private) to the making of the class identifications envisioned in the name of the proletariat; and to demonstrate the importance of aesthetic traditions, registers, and experiences to the representation, narration, and discursivization of these processes. Neither a history of the working class nor of the socialist/communist movement, my study takes seriously the contribution of the imagination—that is, of aesthetic pleasure and utopian thought—to the rise of social movements and the function of political ideologies. Moreover, my analysis intends to draw attention to the hitherto understudied role of emotions, as mediated through aesthetic experiences and cultural practices, in the making of class identifications and political identities.




Sabine Hake is Professor & the Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to UT , she taught at the University of Pittsburgh for sixteen years. She holds a Dr. Phil. in German Studies from the University of Hannover.


Sabine Hake has worked primarily in two areas, Weimar culture and German cinema. As a cultural historian/film historian, she is most interested in the relationship between cultural practices and aesthetic sensibilities, on the one hand, and social movements and political ideologies, on the other. The central terms informing her research are mass culture, popular culture, urban culture, and working-class culture; modernism and modernity; the historical avant-gardes; the fascist aesthetic; classical film theory and theories of culture. 


Selected publications


'Contemporary German Film Studies in Ten Points', German Studies Review, vol. 36, no. 3, 2013, pp. 643-51.


'German Cinema as European Cinema: Learning from Film History', Film History, vol. 25, no. 1-2, 2013, pp. 110-17.


Screen Nazis: Cinema, History, and Democracy, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 2012.


Turkish German Cinema in the New Millennium: Sites, Sounds, and Screens. Anthology, with B. Mennel (eds), Berghahn, Oxford, 2012.


Berlin Divided City, 1949-89, with Ph. Broadbent (eds), Berghahn Books, New York, 2010.


'Art and Exploitation: On the Fascist Imaginary in 1970s Italian Cinema', Studies in European Cinema, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010, pp. 11-21.


Convergence Media History, with J. Staiger (eds), Routledge, London, 2009.


Topographies of Class: Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2008.


German National Cinema. Enlarged and revised edition, Routledge, London, 2008.


Framing the Fifties: Cinema in a Divided Germany, with J. Davidson, Berghahn Books, New York, 2007.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Law
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Sociology and Social Policy
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline History and Law
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline History