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Barbara Ottmann

Welcome to my homepage!


I hold a Magister degree in English Literature with Comparative Literary Studies and American Cultural History from Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich. Before starting my PhD at the University of Warwick in October 2011, I also completed the MA in Film and Television Studies (with distinction) at the department.

My research interests include the intersections between history and myth, the construction of national identity, the politics of genre in general and the romantic comedy in particular, film trailers and the diverging effects of dubbing and subtitling.

Current Research

PhD Thesis "The Lubitsch Touch: A Meta-Critical Study"

Supervisors: Dr Alastair Phillips and Dr Jon Burrows

My thesis explores the history of the Lubitsch Touch, the supposed signature style associated with Ernst Lubitsch (1892—1947) and his films. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Touch exists, but there is decidedly less agreement on what the Touch actually is. I am therefore initially tracing the construction of the Touch through the different discourses on Lubitsch’s œuvre.

From there, I will move on to more general issues of authorship and the authorship of Ernst Lubitsch in particular. For the concept of Lubitsch as an auteur is a paradox. Despite being one of the key émigrés in Hollywood, Lubitsch was never placed at the centre of the authorship debate and has perhaps been subsequently marginalized in popular film discourses and, to a lesser extent, in film scholarship.

The central question of my project is not what the Lubitsch Touch actually is, but rather how such a significant director—one whose style has acquired its own (almost technical) term—could occupy such a precarious position within film culture. What mechanisms are at work in the writing of (film) history and how do historiography and criticism contribute to and even shape our perception of mobile historical figures such as Ernst Lubitsch and his Touch?

My research project is jointly funded through an AHRC Doctoral Award and a Warwick Postgraduate Research Scholarship (WPRS), since renamed Chancellor's Scholarship. In 2013, the AHRC International Placement Scheme allowed me to undertake extensive research at the Library of Congress as a Kluge fellow.

Other Work

During the Autumn term of 2012-13, I assisted Dr Rachel Moseley, leading seminars on the Hollywood Cinema module.
I have been a student representative on and the chair of the PG Student-Staff Liaison Committee at the department and a performance steward and a head steward at Warwick Arts Centre. I have also recently joined Warwick Welcome Service and the PGR Ambassador Scheme.


Send me an email to b dot ottmann at warwick dot ac dot uk or find me on


b dot ottmann at warwick dot ac dot uk

Ernst Lubitsch