Michael Elm studied sociology, political sciences and educational theory at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt/Main Germany. He wrote his M.A. thesis about the political implications of Max Horkheimer’s and Theodor W. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment and received his doctorate with a survey on the depiction of Holocaust testimonies in feature and documentary films. In 2008 he was a research fellow at the Fritz-Bauer-Institute, working on issues of memorial culture and reception theory of the Holocaust. In this capacity he co-edited the conference reader “Witnessing the Holocaust. Trauma, Tradition, and Investigation”. He has published widely in the field of German, Film and Trauma Studies. From 2009 to 2014 he taught cultural memory studies, film and trauma theory as well as political philosophy at the political science department of Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva. Currently he is a senior research fellow at the Minerva Institute for German History (Tel Aviv University) and at the Friedrich Meinecke Institute (Free University Berlin). Elm is conducting a research project about ‘The Great War as Cultural Trauma in current European and Middle Eastern Film’.

Research project: The Coding of the Great War as a Cultural Trauma in Current European and Middle Eastern Films

The Great War is regarded throughout much of Europe as the `seminal catastrophe´ of the 20th century. The metaphor signifies an epochal break with ramifications until the end of the `short 20th century´. The research project investigates whether and how the seminal catastrophe can be understood as a cultural trauma and scrutinizes the function of current feature and documentary films for establishing such an understanding. The research questions are linked to a notion of trauma which permeates historical remembrance in modern societies and which is accompanied by a tendency for victimizing all war participants. Thus the project tries to specify the role of historical film in constructing cultural trauma. For this purpose internationally distributed films which are produced during the commemoration period from 2013 to 2018 will be analyzed. In order to challenge the notion of cultural trauma as a Western perspective, films from the region of the former Ottoman Empire shall be included in the research sample. These films reconstruct World War One from a decidedly different history and present day reality. The comparative level allows for drawing conclusions about the transcultural and transnational validity of trauma discourse.

Research fields:

Film-, Trauma- and Cultural Memory Studies, German and European Modernity in Social and Political Sciences, Cross-Cultural Educational Theory, Holocaust Studies.

Recent publications:

Co-editor Book (peer reviewed): The Horrors of Trauma in Cinema. Violence, Void, Visualization, Michael Elm, Kobi Kabalek, Julia Koehne (eds.), Cambridge Scholars Publisher, August 2014.

Monography: Zeugenschaft im Film. Eine erinnerungskulturelle Analyse filmischer Erzählungen des Holocaust, Metropol Verlag, Berlin, January 2008.

Co-editor Book: Exklusive Solidarität. Linker Antisemitismus in Deutschland. Vom Idealismus zur Antiglobalisierungsbewegung, Matthias Brosch, Michael Elm, Norman Geißler, Brigitta Elisa Simbürger, Oliver von Wrochem (eds.), Metropol Verlag, Berlin, 2007.

Co-editor Book: Zeugenschaft des Holocaust. Zwischen Trauma, Tradierung und Ermittlung. Michael Elm, Gottfried Kößler (eds.), Campus Verlag, Frankfurt & New York, 2007.

email: mi.elm[at]goldmail.de