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Yvonne Zimmermann

Foto: Yvonne Zimmermann

Affiliation & Contact

Philipps University Marburg
Institute of Media Studies
E-Mail: yvonne.zimmermann[at]

Research Areas

‘Useful Cinema’ including Advertising, Industrial and Sponsored Films, Non-Theatrical Film, Early Cinema, Film Historiography, Screen Archaeology


Yvonne Zimmermann is Professor of Media Studies at Philipps-University Marburg (Germany). She is the author of Bergführer Lorenz: Karriere eines missglückten Films (2005) and editor and co-author of a volume on ‘useful cinema’ in Switzerland (Schaufenster Schweiz: Dokumentarische Gebrauchsfilme 1896-1964, 2011). She has published widely on industrial film, ‘useful cinema’, and non-theatrical film culture. Forthcoming books are Films That Work Harder: The Global Circulations of Industrial Cinema (co-edited with Vinzenz Hediger and Florian Hoof, AUP 2019) and Advertising and the Transformation of Screen Cultures (co-written with Bo Florin and Patrick Vonderau, AUP 2018). One part of her current research focuses on Asta Nielsen and the introduction of the star system in before World War I (Research Projects University Marburg), another on the Performative configurations in the art of projection for the popular transfer of knowledge (Research Projects University Marburg). 

Current Research

“Asta Nielsen – The International Film Star and the Introduction of the Star System 1911-1914” in collaboration with Trier University (Martin Loiperdinger), 2018-2021, funded by the German Science Foundation DFG

This project takes Asta Nielsen, the first international film star of the feature film business emerging in the early 1910s, as an example to study the media transition from short film programs to feature film exhibition. Already in May 1911, a groundbreaking business model was contracted in Frankfurt that anticipated the international star system of the following decades, which included blind and block booking, exclusive exhibition rights, and the use of a film star as a brand. The main goal of the project is to retrieve the facts & figures of the marketing campaigns of the Asta Nielsen series during the seasons 1911/12, 1912/13 and 1913/14. For that purpose, the project focuses on the home markets Germany and Austria-Hungary as well as on the foreign markets Great Britain and Australia. The sustainability of the project will be ensured through online access to data collected in the first year: All adverts from the trade press and the local press will be entered into the already existing Importing Asta Nielsen Database (Research Projects University Marburg).

“Performative Configurations of the Art of Projection for the Popular Transfer of Knowledge. Media Archaeological Case Studies in the History of Useful Media and the Screen” in collaboration with Trier Center for Digital Humanities (Claudine Moulin), 2019-2021

The project conducts basic research into the history of time-based ‘useful media’. It aims at exploring the historical art of projection as visual and performative mass medium in the ‘long’ 19th Century. At that time, the popular transfer of knowledge became the dominant field of the art of projection and established the projection of images on a screen as a cultural technique. As ‘useful medium’, the art of projection served to convey diverse subjects in a lively way and to make educational content attractive. Among contemporaries, the art of projection was regarded as the ideal link between entertainment and instruction. The project starts from the hypothesis that the art of projection led to a performatization of the popular transfer of knowledge. This performatization was realized in multiple performative configurations that have shaped the development of modern time-based AV media for knowledge transfer considerably. The case studies in three examined dispositifs and the selected archival editions elaborated in Marburg will be published on the online platform eLaterna – Historical Art of Projection (Research Projects University Marburg).

 Network-related Publications (selection)

◦ Advertising and the Transformation of Screen Cultures (with Bo Florin & Patrick Vonderau). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, forthcoming 2020.
◦ “Hans Richter and the Filmessay: A Media Archaeological Case Study of Documentary Film History and Historiography” In: Joshua Malitzky (ed.). A Companion to Documentary Film History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2020.
◦ “Analyse nicht-fiktionaler Filmformen.” In: Malte Hagener & Volker Pantenburg (eds.). Handbuch Filmanalyse. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2019. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-658-13352-8_30-1
◦ “Advertising and Film: A Topological Approach.” In: Bo Florin, Nico de Klerk, Patrick Vonderau (eds.). Films That Sell: Moving Pictures and Advertising. London, New York: British Film Institute, 2016, 21-39.

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