Call for Chapters - ReFocus: The Historical Films of Ernst Lubitsch (Edinburgh University Press)

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
David John Boyd, University of Glasgow

Call for Papers: ReFocus: The Historical Films of Ernst Lubitsch

Contact email: David John Boyd, Ph.D. (University of Glasgow)

Submission deadline: 30 November 2022

This edited collection of essays responds to and reframes the historical films of German émigré auteur Ernst Lubitsch as film-philosophical or theoretical exemplars of both early world cinema and historical cinema, from his silent era costume dramas of Berlin to his heady post-war Hollywood romances. Inspired by the one-hundred-year anniversary of the release of one of his most iconic silent historical pictures, Das Weib des Pharao (The Wife of the Pharoah, 1922), this collection functions as a critical retrospective of Ernst Lubitsch’s costume films, historical epics, and marriage comedies. This collection is specifically giving interest to Lubitsch’s engagement with theories/philosophies of history, historicity, historiography, or representations of historical events, memory, and/or personae, from across his diverse cinematic historical milieux – from Pharaonic Egypt (Pharao, 1922), a fantastical Arabia (Sumurun, 1920), Tudor England (Anne Boleyn, 1920), the Habsburg Spanish Empire (Rosita, 1923), Revolutionary France (Madame DuBarry, 1919), the Tsarist Russian Empire (Forbidden Paradise, 1924 / The Patriot, 1928 /  A Royal Scandal, 1945), the German Confederation (The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, 1927), and, while contemporaneous in the moment, Fascist Europe (To Be or Not to Be, 1942).

We are currently seeking 250–300-word abstracts for essays to be included in an essay collection on “Ernst Lubitsch and History” to be published as a part of Edinburgh University Press’ ReFocus: The International Directors Studies, which primarily publishes academic works on international and world cinema directors. With the help of the series editors Robert Singer, Gary D. Rhodes, and Stefanie Van de Peer, this volume will be one of the first collections that explores Lubitsch’s critical engagement and expression of historicity (and the theories and philosophies surrounding world history, national history, diasporic cultural memory, etc.) throughout his more than seventy films across the German and American film industries.

Suggested approaches may include examining individual Lubitsch costume and historical films, listed above or otherwise, or offering a comparative analysis of Lubitsch and another contemporaneous director – from either the German silent film industry or the Hollywood studios – with relation to historical discourse, theory, or philosophy.

Moreover, other specific topics of interest for this collection may include:

  • Lubitsch, absolutism, and the ancien régime
  • Lubitsch, America, and history
  • Lubitsch, capitalism, and history
  • Lubitsch, the city, and history
  • Lubitsch, class warfare, and history
  • Lubitsch, cosmopolitanism, and history
  • Lubitsch and cultural memory as or against history
  • Lubitsch and diasporic or minor histories
  • Lubitsch, desire, and history
  • Lubitsch, embodiment, and history
  • Lubitsch and early modern Europe
  • Lubitsch, fairy-tales, and history
  • Lubitsch, fascism, and history
  • Lubitsch, fashion, and history
  • Lubitsch, feminism, and historical discourse or representation of women
  • Lubitsch, the film industry/apparatus, and history
  • Lubitsch, food, and history
  • Lubitsch, German Expressionism, and history
  • Lubitsch and German history, historiography, or historicity
  • Lubitsch, German Romanticism, and history
  • Lubitsch and genre as history, i.e., comedy, drama, fantasy, horror, or romance
  • Lubitsch and Hegel’s theories/philosophies of history
  • Lubitsch and imperial histories
  • Lubitsch, Jewishness, and history
  • Lubitsch, literature, and history
  • Lubitsch, marriage, and history
  • Lubitsch and Marx’s (or Marxian) theories/philosophies of history
  • Lubitsch and modernity
  • Lubitsch and myth (or mythic histories)
  • Lubitsch and national histories
  • Lubitsch, Nazism, and history
  • Lubitsch, Orientalism, and histories of non-Eurocentric populations
  • Lubitsch, periodization, and history
  • Lubitsch, political violence, and history
  • Lubitsch and the premodern
  • Lubitsch, queerness, and history
  • Lubitsch, regionality, and history
  • Lubitsch and the Renaissance
  • Lubitsch, revolutionary thought, and history
  • Lubitsch, secularism, and history
  • Lubitsch, sex/sexuality, and history
  • Lubitsch, temporality, and history
  • Lubitsch, theatre, and history (Brecht, Kleist, Shakespeare, or other dramatists)
  • Lubitsch, war, and history
  • Lubitsch, world history, and/or its relation to world cinema

Any other suggestions that examine Lubitsch’s massive body of work alongside historical discourse, representation, philosophy, or theory are also welcome.

Essays included in the refereed anthology will be approximately 7,000 words, and more info on our style guide will be offered if abstract is accepted.

Please send a CV and abstract to by 30 November 2022, and do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.