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Journal of English Philology

Ed. by Kornexl, Lucia / Lenker, Ursula / Middeke, Martin / Rippl, Gabriele / Stein, Daniel Thomas

CiteScore 2018: 0.22

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.130
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.336

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Volume 131, Issue 1


Leni Riefenstahl und Susan Sontag: Gibt es im Sport eine faschistische Ästhetik?

Heide Ziegler
Published Online: 2013-04-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/anglia-2013-0005


Susan Sontag, in a famous essay called “Fascinating Fascism”, first published in 1974, argues that Leni Riefenstahl, who by that time had made a conspicuous come-back as a photographer in the U.S., had always and would always adhere to fascist aesthetics. This essay seeks to demonstrate that as early as 1936, when Riefenstahl began to work on her film Olympia (1938), she had already discarded fascist aesthetics and replaced it by a yearning for what Dreyfus and Kelly, in their important 2011 study, All Things Shining, would call the secular transcendence attaching to sports events that involve top athletes. Since Riefenstahl wanted, and actually managed, to capture such moments of secular transcendence during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin through her technical perfection as a film director, she had already implicitly begun to enter on a career which - if we allow for David Foster Wallace’s belief that top athletes fascinate Americans by appealing to their twin obsessions with competitive superiority and hard data - would eventually resemble a typically American career, whereas Sontag’s philosophical attitude remained firmly rooted in European thought until her death in 2004. The careers of these two famous women therefore call for a reconsideration of what we tend to regard as the primary importance of the immediate historico-cultural context of a person’s life.

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Published Online: 2013-04-17

Published in Print: 2013-04-01

Citation Information: Anglia, Volume 131, Issue 1, Pages 76–99, ISSN (Online) 1865-8938, ISSN (Print) 0340-5222, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/anglia-2013-0005.

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