Ilka Brasch (Leibniz Universität Hannover)
Ilka Brasch is a PhD candidate and lecturer at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. She is also a member of the Research Unit "Popular Seriality: Aesthetics and Practice," which is based at the Free University of Berlin and founded by the German Research Foundation. She is currently working on her PhD Thesis on crime fiction plotlines and the depiction of technology in film serials between 1910 and 1940. The thesis is part of a joint subproject of the Research Unit, which is titled "Serializing Mass Culture: Popular Film Serials and Serial Structures in the United States, 1910-1940" and which is led by Ruth Mayer.
Abstract: "Flashes of Light(n)ing: The Power of God (1925) and the Aesthetic of Electricity"
So far, scholarship on film serials has mostly studied the 1910s and their serial queens. The serials of the 1920s have been disregarded or simply considered inaccessible or lost - even though the production and release of film serials continued steadily throughout the decade. Among the most prominent figures of that decade are "serial king and queen" Ben Wilson and Neva Gerber.
My paper will focus on one particular Wilson/Gerber serial titled The Power of God from 1925. The serial concerns the fight of three parties to gain control of an invention that enables its possessor to draw electric energy from air. The serial thus picks up on themes and ideas that were prominent in film serials since their earliest days: For example the depiction of novel mechanisms and scientific possibilities, the focus on genius inventors, but also the battle of good versus evil as enacted in the struggle over objects and ideas representing scientific and technological progress. The Power of God focuses on electricity - as opposed to serials that display more graspable inventions - and it stages electricity in terms of its visuality in the form of light. My paper takes a closer look at how this focus on electricity as light impacts the serial's visual aesthetics and appeal.