Erika A. Kiss


Associate Research Scholar, Director, University Center for Human Values Film Forum, Princeton University

Visiting Fellow
(September 2016 – August 2017)


Liberal Education and the Division of Labor: Two Sides of the Same Coin

The idea of the modern research university (forged by Humboldt and the Jena movement) was an answer to the aporia of classical liberal economic theory unfolding in the rhetorical, moral, and economic writings of Adam Smith. Smith’s aporia goes as follows: productivity measurable in profit is conditioned upon ever-increasing specialization; however, productivity in the sense of creativity (poiesis) exponentially decreases with the fragmentation of human competence as division of labor progresses. In fact, this aporia of productivity is what today we refer to as the problem of sustainability. Smith suggests that public art for the simple folk, on the one hand, and university education for the gentleman, on the other, might be the antidote to the mechanization of human creativity in order for the profitable progress of the super-specialized division of labor to be sustained. Humboldt’s research university that was once the solution to the problem of sustainable productivity needs adjustment in the electronic age.



Previous stays at the IWM:
July – August 2014, Visiting Fellow

Former Project:
A Sense of Place in Cinema: Vernacular Filmmaking Contrea Hollywood

The various new waves of counter-Hollywood cinema always appear in national brands. This project examines the geopolitical tension between, on the one hand, the new wave vernacular artfilm of postwar Europe (with the focus on Italian Neorealism and the Danish Dogma 95) and, on the other, the global, popular, classical cinematic language of Hollywood.