University of North Carolina Greensboro professor Susanna Rinner (GRD ’03) spoke about how various German films helped foment the 1968 German radical movement Friday afternoon.

Rinner, who studied German literature at Georgetown, is the author of “The German Student Movement and the Literary Imagination: Transnational Memories of Protest and Dissent.”

In her lecture, Rinner spoke about how the film industry influenced the German youth rebellion.

“A plethora of publications, representations and anniversary commemorations have dealt with the 1968 student movement in Germany,” Rinner said. “I attribute this to the ongoing culture wars on both sides of the Atlantic in order to determine the importance of this social movement.”

Rinner’s presentation featured excerpts from “Easy Rider” and “Viva Maria” as well as the German film “Die Stille Nach Dem Schuss” — literally translated to “the silence after the shot” — which was later released in English as “The Legend of Rita.”

According to Rinner, “Viva Maria,” a film released in both French and English about a travelling circus that uses guerilla warfare against a wealthy landlord in order to support the peasants, played a significant role in shaping the early German youth movement.

“The reason I think this is significant for the 1968 radical is that everyone loved the movie when it came out in 1966,” Rinner said.

Rinner then discussed the American film “Easy Rider,” which depicted prejudice against defiant youth. Rinner compared this prejudice to racism against African Americans.

“There is something about the identity of the rebellious figure that is sexualized and racialized,” Rinner said.

In addition to studying race and gender relations, Rinner expressed interest in studying the economics of the 1968 rebellion.

“I think the reason this keeps me engaged is that it is an interdisciplinary discourse with multiple research angles,” Rinner said.

Attendees found Rinner’s work interesting.

“She did an excellent job, especially with reference to pop culture,” Noelle Rettig, a doctoral candidate in the German department, said.

Claudia Winkler, also a doctoral candidate in the German department, agreed, adding that she enjoyed seeing the planning process behind an academic’s finished work.

“There is this idea of the academic as an isolated genius,” Winkler said. “Seeing things like this really breaks down that stereotype.”

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