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Berna Gueneli

Berna Gueneli
Assistant Professor

Having studied in Germany, Spain and the US, I received my PhD in Germanic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. A specialist in 20/21st century German film, ethnicity and minority studies, I teach courses on all aspects of German language, culture, and film at Grinnell. In Fall 2016, I am teaching my second Tutorial class (a first-year seminar). The course is based on Fatih Akın and Multiethnic German Cinema.

My primary research area is on German cinema with a particular focus on Turkish-German studies. The generous Harris Fellowship from Grinnell College, which I was awarded for 2015-2016, allowed me to finalize the first comprehensive (English language) monograph on Fatih Akın and his cinema, (tentatively entitled) The New Sound of Europe: Fatih Akın's Cinema in Context (the full manuscript is currently under review) . Focusing on Akın's distinctive visions of regional and local aspects in Europe, I argue that his cosmopolitan, polyphonic films challenge existing notions of Europe and Europeanness. With his aesthetics of heterogeneity–as I call it–Akın's cinematic Europe questions particularly notions of a clear-cut and national Europe. One of the major innovations of Akın's cinema is his subtle exhibit of changing sounds of Europe. This cinematic Europe threatens, in particular, fantasies of homogeneity and monolingualism.

This book project includes two comparative chapters. The first is an analysis of a larger European context and juxtaposes Akın's use of cinematic space, language, and music to other European directors such as Mathieu Kassovitz, Yamina Benguigui, Michael Haneke, and Stephen Frears, whose films display aspects of transnational cinema. Here, I argue that minority filmmakers such as Akın or Benguigui, but also filmmakers who are commonly not solely associated with minority cinema such as Frears, Haneke, and Kassovitz display a multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan Europe that disseminates images and sounds of a fundamentally changed Europe, a Europe which exists and operates well beyond the borders of "Fortress Europe." The second is based on intertextualities within Akin's cinema and looks at his cinema in the context of Turkish cinema, that is contemporary as well as political and maistream cinema from the 1970s and 80s (Yesilcam, Young Turkish, and New Turkish Cinema). I argue that through his intertextualities, Akin, in fact, creates a transnational film history.




Guest Editor of Special Issues / Special Volumes

Co-guest editor (with Ela Gezen). Türkisch-deutsche Studien, Jahrbuch 2015. Special Volume on Turkish-German Studies: Past, Present, and Future. Göttingen: V&R Unipress, 2015.

Co-guest editor (with Ela Gezen). Colloquia Germanica 44, no. 4 Special Issue on Transnational Hi/Stories: Turkish-German Texts and Contexts (2011; publ. date 2014).


Articles and Book Chapters

“Reframing Islam: The Decoupling of Ethnicity from Religion in Turkish-German Media.” Colloquia Germanica 47, no. 1 Special Issue on Framing Islam: Faith, Fascination, and Fear in Twenty-First Century Culture (2014, publ. Date 2016). Forthcoming.

“Fatih Akın’s Filmic Visions of Europe: Spatial and Aural Constructions of Europe in Im Juli (In July, 2000).” East, West and Centre: Reframing post-1989 European Cinema (Traditions in World Cinema Series), edited by Todd Herzog and Michael Gott. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2015. 79-93.

"Film Histories Remixed: Fatih Akın and the Creation of a Transnational Film History.” Colloquia Germanica 44, no. 4 Special Issue onTransnational Hi/Stories: Turkish-German Texts and Contexts (2011; publ. date 2014): 451-467.

“The Sound of Fatih Akın’s Cinema: Polyphony and the Aesthetics of Heterogeneity in The Edge of Heaven.German Studies Review 37, no. 2 (2014). 337-356.

Wut - Who is Enraged? Violence in the ‘Victim Society.’” Türkisch-deutsche Studien, Jahrbuch 2013, Jugendbilder - Repräsentationen von Jugend in Medien und Politik, edited by Şeyda Ozil, Michael Hofmann und Yasemin Dayıoglu-Yücel. Göttingen: V&R Unipress, 2013. 95-112.

“Mehmet Kurtuluş and Birol Ünel: Sexualized Masculinities, Normalized Ethnicities.” Turkish German Cinema in the New Millennium: Sites, Sounds, and Screens, edited by Sabine Hake and Barbara Mennel. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2012. 136-148.

 “Orientalist Fashion, Photography, and Fantasies: Baron Max von Oppenheim’s Arabian Nights in Context” (submitted, under review)


Shorter Pieces

"Introduction: Transnational Hi/Stories: Turkish-German Texts and Contexts." (with Ela Gezen). Transnational Hi/Stories: Turkish-German Texts and Contexts. Special Issue of Colloquia Germanica 44.4 (2011; publ. date 2014). 377-381.

“‚Ja, dann mach doch was mit Film. Werd’ doch Filmemacher.’ Einleitung von Berna Gueneli.” In Deutsch-Türkische Filmkultur im Migrationskontext (AT), edited by Ömer Alkın. Wiesbaden: Springer VS Verlag, 2016. (Forthcoming)



Interview with filmmaker İlker Çatak. In Deutsch-Türkische Filmkultur.


My book reviews have appeared in Monatshefte, German Quarterly, H-German, and ARSCJ.


Sample Courses

Art House Made in Germany: Expressionist Film, New German Cinema and the Berlin School in Context (Advanced Seminar, Spring 2017, to be taught in German)

Art, Life, and Politics in Post-Wende Germany (GRM 354, taught in German)

Turkish, German, European: Fatih Akın’s Cinema & Multiethnic Germany (First-Year Tutorial, taught in English)

Deutsche Kulturgeschichte: Literatur, Film und Kunst: 1871-heute (GRM 303, survey course, taught in German)

Gender, Sex, and Ethnicity in German Cinema: A Survey  (GRM/GLS 233, film survey, taught in English)

From Berlin to Hollywood: German Cinema and Its Impact on Hollywood Films, 1920s-1960s (taught in English)

Campus Phone: 

(641) 269-4810


(641) 269-4985


Kiel, Germany

Off-Campus Study: 

Spain, England, USA

Campus Job(s): 

Assistant Professor of German

faculty info column 1

On-Campus Address: 

231A Alumni Recitation Hall
Grinnell, IA 50112
United States

Education / Degrees: 

PhD, The University of Texas at Austin

MA, Texas Tech University

Staatsexamen, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany

MA, Indiana University

Primary Academic Interest: 

History of German cinema
transnational cinema
film sound
20th/21st century German literature and culture
minority studies
diaspora studies
European studies

Curriculum Vitae/Resume: