This article details the brief collaboration between Siegfried Kracauer and Gregory Bateson in the Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art during World War II as an intriguing episode in intellectual history, touching on film and media studies, anthropology, and German studies. The article presents the Frankfurt School as part of the 1940s’ memorandum culture and thereby attempts to situate the historiography of critical theory during this formative period within a broader intellectual landscape, that is, in dialogue and competition with several other projects, to analyze the Nazi German enemy, in this case, the Culture and Personality School. The article takes Kracauer’s and Bateson’s analyses of the Nazi movie Hitlerjunge Quex as a case in point and, with the help of institutional and biographical contextualization, develops some of their most important methodical innovations and insights into Nazi German propaganda. In particular, the article points to Kracauer’s concept of hypnosis and relates it to Bateson’s media theory.

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