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Acting at the crossroads of media: feminist resonances of Margarete von Trotta's Hannah Arendt

The CEU Campus
Friday, January 29, 2016, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

The Department of Gender Studies 2015-2016 Public Lecture Series 


Lada Čale Feldman

Acting at the crossroads of media: feminist resonances of Margarete von Trotta's Hannah Arendt

 5:30 p.m., 29 Jan. 2016, Nador 9, MB Popper Room

Margarete von Trotta's film Hannah Arendt, dealing mainly with the episode of the philosopher's life which produced Arendt’s famous Eichmann in Jerusalem, renewed controversies surrounding the initial reception of her essay. In contrast to the criticisms of the film which insist on its referential aspect – the «truth» of Margarete von Trotta's biographical rendition, or of Hannah Arendt's interpretation of Eichmann's moral responsibility, as well as of the moral responsibility of Jewish representatives for deaths in concentration camps – this lecture will try to discuss the impact of the film in terms of its three intertextual frames of reference: first, the current cinematic appetite for «playing for real», especially for playing prominent middle-age female public figures (for instance, Queen Elisabeth II by Helen Mirren or Margaret Thatcher by Meryl Streep); second, Hannah Arendt's own ideas on «acting», conceived in its double, political and theatrical sense, as well as on vita contemplativa/vita activa dichotomy, having in mind the difficulty of artistically enacting «the life of the mind»; third, the way Margarete von Trotta inscribes her film into the tradition of iconographic representations of «the woman of ideas», insisting not so much on Hannah Arendt's own feminist allegiances, but on feminist implications of her acting on the public stage.


Lada Čale Feldman is Professor of Theatre Studies at the Department for Comparative Literature, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb University. From 1991 to 2005 she was research associate of the Institute of ethnology and folklore research, and lectured at the Center for Women's Studies in Zagreb. Her areas of research include theatre and performance studies, gender studies and literary theory, on which she published widely, in Croatian, English, German, Italian, and French. She is author of several books, among which Play-within-the-Play in the Croatian Theatre (Matica hrvatska, Naklada MD, 1997), Euridices Turns (Centar za ženske studije and Naklada MD, 2001) which brought her the 2002 award in theater criticism, then Femina ludens (Disput, 2005) and Dreams are not to be trusted (Disput, 2012); she is also co-author (with Morana Čale) of In the canon, studies in doubling (Disput, 2008), then (with Ana Tomljenović) of Introduction to feminist literary criticism (Leykam International, 2012)

She is coeditor with Ines Prica and Reana Senjković of Fear, Death and Resistance: an Ethnography of War, Croatia 1991-92 (Matrix croatica, Institute of ethnology and folklore research, X-press, 1993), then with Ines Prica of Deviations and Misfires: An Ethnography of Indigenous Socialism (Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku, 2006), and finally with Marin Blažević of Misperformance, Essays in Shifting Perspectives, Maska, 2014. She also edited books in honour of two Croatian actors, Tonko Lonza (edition of Dubrovnik summer festival, 2011) and Neva Rošić (edition of Dubrovnik summer festival, 2014).

Former President of the Croatian Association for Semiotics, she was also Conference Board Director of the 15th Psi conference in Zagreb 2009, devoted to the concept of Misperformance, which became one of the key concepts of performance studies (see the entry written with M. Blažević for Performance Studies. Key Concepts, Words, and Theories, ed. by Brian Reynolds, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).