Stefanie Diekmann
ifk Senior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2023 bis 31. January 2024

Supporting Characters


This is a project about the work associated with the entrances, exits, and appearances of supporting characters (»Nebenfiguren«) in film and theater. About the work that goes into the writing of such characters and their implementation in the plots of films and plays. About the professions they are assigned to motivate their contribution(s) to the plot that unfolds on the screen or the stage. And about the »work«, largely unnoticed, these characters contribute to the dynamics onscreen or onstage, without ever distracting attention from the protagonists.

As a starting point, the project will take a long look at some of the professions supporting characters have been given in cinema: servants, secretaries, drivers, and dressers in classical Hollywood films; personal assistants and team members in contemporary narratives. Against various attempts to »honor« supporting characters by transforming them into (temporary) protagonists, the project will highlight the affinities between their dramaturgical and professional status, functional dimensions, and the intrinsic connection between supporting characters and narrative dynamics.


Stefanie Diekmann is Full Professor of Media Studies and Cultural Studies at University of Hildesheim (since 2012); 2010 to 2012 Associate Professor of Media and Theatre Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Visiting Lecturer and Professor at University College Cork, the University of Texas at Austin, University of Berne, Université de Louvain, et al., and, in 2022/23, at Université Paris 8 and Aix-Marseille Université. Also active on international evaluation boards, e.g., the panel »Arts, Design, and Architecture«, Swiss National Fund (SNF; since 2019).

Research areas: documentary cinema, audiovisual interviews; history of film and photo theory, intermedia; media theory in the cinema; comics. Since 2002 regular contributions to art and film magazines and arts pages (reviews, articles), including Texte zur Kunst, filmbulletin, Der Freitag, perlentaucher.de. From 2008 until 2017 comics columnist for the film magazine Cargo.


Six Feet Under, (Reihe booklet), Berlin und Zürich 2014; Backstage – Konstellationen von Kino und Theater, Berlin 2013; Mythologien der Fotografie: Abriss zur Diskursgeschichte eines Mediums, München 2003; André Gunthert, Das geteilte Bild. Essays zur digitalen Fotografie, aus dem Französischen und mit einer Einführung von S.D.) Konstanz 2019.

20 November 2023
  • Lecture
ifk & ifk@Zoom
Stefanie Diekmann

Busy Bodies. Supporting Characters in Classical Hollywood Cinema

This lecture will investigate the function, dynamics and economy of supporting characters in classical Hollywood cinema through a closer reading of films including To Be or Not To Be, All About Eve, and The Country Girl.