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Cinematic Histospheres

On the Theory and Practice of Historical Films

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  • Open Access
  • © 2021

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  • Develops a theory of histospheres
  • Proposes the first detailed and consistent theory that defines historical film as a living genre practice based on its specific aesthetics and phenomenology
  • Connects histospheres to contemporary debates in film studies and other disciplines such as historical studies

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Table of contents (9 chapters)


About this book

In this Open Access book, film scholar Rasmus Greiner develops a theoretical model for the concept of the histosphere to refer to the “sphere” of a cinematically modelled, physically experienceable historical world. His analysis of practices of modelling and perceiving, immersion and empathy, experience and remembering, appropriation and refiguration, combine approaches from film studies, such as Vivian Sobchack’s phenomenology of film experience, with historiographic theories, such as Frank R. Ankersmit’s concept of historical experience. Building on this analysis, Greiner examines the spatial and temporal organization of historical films and presents discussions of mood and atmosphere, body and memory, and genre and historical consciousness. The analysis is based around three historical films, spanning six decades, that depict 1950s Germany: Helmut Käutner’s Sky Without Stars (1955), Jutta Brückner’s Years of Hunger (1980), and Sven Bohse’s three-part TV series Ku’damm 56 (2016).


“The book presents the original concept of the ‘histosphere’ which is likely to become a much-cited term in the field. Drawing upon other concepts like the semiosphere, the biosphere and the technosphere, the author posits that the immersive experiences created by the construction of historical worlds in cinema offer the viewer a unique relationship to historical films. This is a useful way to analyse and dissect the popular, and often political form of historical production and of course, tells us about the era in which the film was made, as well as the period it conveys in its filmic world.” (Ciara Chambers, University College Cork)

“The book takes up discussions that have been of great interestto both film scholars and historians for a long time, sums these discussions up in a concise and informative way, and is suggesting a solution under the newly introduced term ‘histospheres’. This term might prove a fruitful anchor point in the ongoing debate about historical films both in film studies and historical disciplines.” (Dr André Wendler, University of Leipzig)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inst. f. Kunstwissenschaft – Filmwissenschaft – Kunstpädagogik, Universität Bremen, Bremen, Germany

    Rasmus Greiner

About the author

Dr. Rasmus Greiner is Senior Lecturer in film studies at University of Bremen, Germany. He is founder and general editor of the open access journal Research in Film and History. His areas of research comprise audio-visual history, global film culture, war movies, genre studies, and film aesthetics.  His recent publications include the edited volumes Reality Unbound: New Departures in Science Fiction Cinema (ed. with Aidan Power et. al., Berlin 2017) and Film and History: Producing and Experiencing History in Moving Images and Sound (ed. with Winfried Pauleit et. al., Berlin 2015); and the article “Sonic Histospheres: Sound Design and History” (in: Research in Film and History,, Bremen 2018).    

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Cinematic Histospheres

  • Book Subtitle: On the Theory and Practice of Historical Films

  • Authors: Rasmus Greiner

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2021

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-70589-3Published: 20 May 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-70592-3Published: 20 May 2021

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-70590-9Published: 19 May 2021

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVI, 229

  • Number of Illustrations: 21 b/w illustrations, 16 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Screen Studies, History, general, Film Theory

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