David Levin

Addie Clark Harding Professor, Department of Germanic Studies, Department of Cinema & Media Studies, the Committee on Theater and Performance Studies, and the College.
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Wieboldt 122
(773) 702-8532

Ph.D., University of California Berkeley

Special Interests

German Cinema (Weimar and New German Cinema); theories of spectacle; melodrama; performance theory; intersections of cinema, theater, and opera

Since joining the faculty at Chicago, I have taught courses in German Cinema (e.g., Weimar Cinema; German Cinema 1945-1989; Fassbinder: Melodrama, Politics, and Poetics; The Cinema of Catastrophe), on theories of spectacle; performance theory; and the intersections of cinema, theater, and opera. Recently, my research and teaching have been organized around questions of performance and spectatorship, especially the institutional and ideological histories of absorption. In addition to my academic work, I have spent a number of years working as a dramaturg, mostly in Germany, (e.g., at the Frankfurt Opera, the Bremen Opera, and the Frankfurt Ballet) but also, more recently, at Lyric Opera of Chicago and for opera cabal, an avant-garde opera company based in New York and Chicago. For the past five years, I have served as the executive editor of the Opera Quarterly (published by Oxford University Press). From 2007-2010, I served as Co-Director of the M.A. Program in the Humanities at Chicago. In the Spring of 2010, Christopher Wild and I hosted "Praxes of Theory", an international conference at Chicago that brought together artists and scholars form Berlin and Chicago to explore the intersections of performance practice and performance theory. The conference inaugurated a multi-year cooperation with the Institute for Theater Studies at the Free University Berlin.  In the Summer of 2011, I was named the inaugural Director of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at Chicago, I taught at Columbia University, where I served on the faculties in Germanic Languages, Theatre, and Gender Studies. In my last two years at Columbia, I served as co-chair, with Rosalind Morris, of the Columbia Seminar on Cinema & Interdisciplinary Interpretation.


2007/2010        Unsettling Opera: Staging Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Zemlinsky.  University of Chicago Press. (Paperback edition: 2010)

1998/2000        Richard Wagner, Fritz Lang, and the Nibelungen: The  Dramaturgy of Disavowal. Princeton University Press.  Princeton Studies in Opera.  (Paperback edition: 2000)

1994     Opera Through Other Eyes. (Edited volume.)  Stanford University Press. Simultaneous paper and hardback.


2011     “The Mise-en-scene of Mediation: Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (Stuttgart Opera, Peter Konwitschny)” forthcoming in Opera Quarterly 27.2-3 (2011).

2011     “Was will der Wagner? Gedanken zu einem Szenario der Opernfeindlichkeit.”  Forthcoming in Gabriele Brandstetter, Stefanie Diekmann, and Christopher Wild, eds., Theaterfeindlichkeit (München: Wilhelm Fink, 2011), 87-98.

2009     "Verklärter Alltag: Zur Dramaturgie der Fantasie in Zemlinskys TRAUMGÖRGE" in Katharina John, ed.  Alexander von Zemlinsky und die Moderne. (Berlin: Nicolai Verlag, 2009), 38-47.

2009     “Ein bildschöner Mann?” Zur Dramaturgie der visuellen Vertiefung in Richard Wagners Der fliegende Holländer” in Kati Röttger, Alexander Jackob (Hg.): Theater und Bild: Inszenierungen des Sehens.  (Berlin: transcript verlag), 255-66.

2008     "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Drastisch oder Gnostisch?" in Clemens Risi, et al., eds. Angst vor der Zerstörung: Die Meister Künste zwischen Archiv und Erneuerung, published in association with the Bayreuth Festival. (Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2008), 260-71.

2007     “Randerlösung: zur Dramaturgie der Figuration in Wagners Tannhäuser“, in Gabriele Brandstetter, A. von Müller & Gottfried Boehm, eds. Figur und Figuration: Studien zu Wahrnehmung und Wissen (München: Wilhelm Fink, 2007), 263-71.

2006     "Don Giovanni e il teatro di regia: riflessioni su un'unione celeste (o infernale)" commissioned essay in program book for new production of Don Giovanni at La Scala, Milan; trans. Alessandra Campana.  (Firenze: Fondazione Teatro alla Scala), 99-108.

2006     "Issues & Trends in Contemporary Opera Production" in Grove Book of Operas 2nd Edition, ed Stanley Sadie & Laura Macy, xi-xxiii (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), xi-xxiii.

2006     “A Picture Perfect Man: Senta, Absorption, and Wagnerian Theatricality,” in Opera Quarterly: Der fliegende Holländer 21.3 (Summer 2005): 486-95.

2006     “Interstitial Redemption: Wagner’s Tannhäuser and the Dramaturgical Vicissitudes of Music Drama” in Monatshefte 98.2 (June 2006) , special issue on “The Art of Hearing”, ed. Marc Silberman.

2006     “Operatic School for Scandal,” in Downing Thomas and Roberta Marvin, eds. Operatic Migrations: Transforming Works and Crossing Boundaries (London: Ashgate, 2006), 241-52.