Associate Professor of German
Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures
Ph.D., Princeton University
Project: The Absolute Realist: The Photographic Theory of Albert Renger-Patzsch
This project is a scholarly edition with a monograph-length introduction to the photographic theory of Albert Renger-Patzsch. Although Thomas Mann lauded him as "Germany's Greatest Photographer" in the 1920s, other thinkers, notably Walter Benjamin, László Moholy-Nagy, and other partisans of the avant-garde attacked his realist aesthetic. Due to the lack of an English-language edition of his writings, Renger-Patzsch has become one side of a reductive "realism vs. avant-garde" debate. This project argues, however, that Renger-Patzsch rejected the idea of a singular photographic realism in favor of an infinite array of realisms
, each unique to the photographed object and that representation's purpose. Renger-Patzsch's concept of multiple realisms can help us understand realism not as the avant-garde's "other" but as central to it and to German modernism.