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Eric Rentschler received his academic training in German literature, German history, and European intellectual history, studying in Stuttgart, Bonn, and Prague, before taking his doctoral degree at the University of Washington. He has been awarded Guggenheim, Humboldt, ACLS, DAAD, and Fulbright grants as well as the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize for Senior Faculty at Harvard (2001) and the Walter Channing Cabot Fellowship (2003). At Harvard he is both Chair and Director of Graduate Studies of the Film and Visual Studies Program, the convener of the monthly Film and Visual Studies Colloquium, and the director of the annual Berlin Film Program offered by the Harvard Summer School (in cooperation with the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin). He is also an editor of New German Critique, and, with Anton Kaes, co-director of the German Film Institute held every second summer at the University of Michigan.
His publications concentrate on film history, theory, and criticism, with particular emphasis on German cinema during the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the post-1945 and postwall eras. His numerous articles have appeared in collections and periodicals; his books include West German Film in the Course of Time (Redgrave, 1984), German Film and Literature (Methuen, 1986), West German Filmmakers on Film (Holmes & Meier, 1988), Augenzeugen (Verlag der Autoren, 1988, with Hans Helmut Prinzler; second updated edition 2001), The Films of G.W. Pabst (Rutgers UP, 1990), The Ministry of Illusion (Harvard UP, 1996), Neuer Deutscher Film (Reclam, 2012, with Norbert Grob and Hans Helmut Prinzler), and The Use and Abuse of Cinema: German Legacies from the Weimar Era to the Present (Columbia UP, 2015). His present book project is The Cinema of Consensus: Zeitgeist Szenarios in the Kohl Era.