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books

THE BEST BOOKS OF 2012

Eleven scholars, critics, writers, artists, and architects choose the year’s outstanding titles.

ANTON KAES

Miriam Bratu Hansen completed Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno (University of California Press) shortly before she died last year after a long illness. A summa of her life’s work, this magisterial book is a gift—and a must—for anyone interested in critical theory’s engagement with film, media, and mass culture; there is no other study like it. The book’s ultimately discarded working title, “The Other Frankfurt School,” pointed to the inclusion of Kracauer and Benjamin, who did not belong to the inner circle of Frankfurt’s Institute for Social Research; it also highlighted Hansen’s intention to reevaluate the school’s arguable disregard of cinema. The final title invokes Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge’s Public Sphere

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