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This book is the first to consider the presence of history and the question of historical practice in Walter Benjamin's work. Benjamin, the critic and philosopher of history, was also the practitioner, the authors contend, and it is in the practice of historical writing that the materialist aspect of his thought is most evident. Some of the essays analyze Benjamin's writings in cultural history and the philosophy of history. Others connect his historical and theoretical practices to issues in contemporary feminism and post-colonial studies, and to cultural contexts including the United States, Japan, and Hong Kong. In different ways, the authors all find in Benjamin's specific notion of historical materialism a dialectic between textual and cultural analysis which can reinvigorate the relation between literary and historical studies. --Richard Wolin, Rice University
Walter Benjamin's collection of fragments, Theses on the Philosophy of History, play a determining role in how his thought is understood, as well as in the debate about the interplay between politics, history and time. Walter Benjamin and History is the first volume to give access to the themes and problems raised by the Theses, providing valuable exegetical and historical work on the text. The essays collected here are all the work of noted Benjamin scholars, and pursue the themes central to the Theses.
"Hanssen’s exacting, expansive study of the ways Benjamin reconceives history and nature in one another’s presence, or distance, is part of the increasing recognition of what it must take intellectually and imaginatively to come to terms with this thinker’s soaring innovations."—Stanley Cavell, Harvard University "In this profoundly learned book Hanssen interprets Benjamin's The Origin of German Tragic Drama as the key to understanding his entire corpus. . . . Many books about Benjamin are impenetrable. This one is not." —S. Gittleman, Choice "Beatrice Hanssen has provided an arresting new reading of Benjamin, based on a wide range of materials and a subtle understanding of theoretical issues, both in his time and our own. Her interpretation is informed by contemporary deconstructionist approaches to the fundamental questions raised by Benjamin’s texts, which she demonstrates anticipate many of the concerns of Derrida, Levinas and other recent thinkers."—Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley "Beatrice Hanssen elaborates Benjamin's extremely novel and complex notion of 'history' with unparalleled thoroughness, cogency, and clarity."—Samuel Weber, University of California, Los Angeles
On The Concept of History is a politics & social sciences essay written by German philosopher and social science critic Walter Benjamin. On The Concept of History is one of Walter Benjamin's best known, and most controversial works. The politics & social sciences essay is composed of twenty numbered paragraphs in which Benjamin uses poetic and scientific analogies to present a critique of historicism. Walter Benjamin wrote the brief essay shortly before attempting to escape from Vichy France, where French collaborationist government officials were handing over Jewish refugees like Walter Benjamin to the Nazi Gestapo. Walter Benjamin completed On The Concept of History before fleeing to Spain where he unfortunately committed suicide. Benjamin's work is often required textbook reading in various subjects such as humanities, philosophy, and politics & social sciences.
Walter Benjamin (1896-1940) has been called by Hannah Arendt the "greatest critic of the century." While an increasing number of Anglo-American literary critics draw upon Benjamin's writings in their own works, their colleagues in the philosophical community remain relatively unacquainted with his legacy. In the European intellectual world, by contrast, Benjamin's critical epistemological program, his philosophies of history and language, and his aesthetics have long since become part of philosophical discourse. The present collection of articles, many of which were contained in earlier versions in the Winter 1983 special issue of the journal The Philosophical Forum, initiates the project of establishing Benjamin's importance to philosophy. A balance of original work by Benjamin and important commentary on his works, this volume includes the crucial chapter from Benjamin's magnum opus The Arcades Project, his "Program of the Coming Philosophy," and "Central Park," as well as essays by leading scholars (including Theodor W. Adorno, Leo Lowenthal, and Rolf Tiedemann) that treat single philosophical themes and relate his ideas to those of other thinkers such as Gadamer, Goodmann, and Rosenzweig. Gary Smith's introduction to the volume provides an extremely useful and sophisticated entrée for readers unaccustomed to the breadth of Benjamin's philosophical allusions, as well as an informative summation of the contents of the volume. This book will be of interest to philosophers, literary theorists, art historians, anthropologists, and other social scientists.
This illuminating study of Benjamin's final essay helps unlock the mystery of this great philosopher.
This book places Benjamin's writing on revolution in the context of his conception of historical knowledge. The fundamental problem that faces any analysis of Benjamin's approach to revolution is that he deploys notions that belong to the domain of individual experience. His theory of modernity with its emphasis on the disintegration of collective experience further aggravates the problem. Benjamin himself understood the problem of revolution to be primarily that of the conceptualization of collective experience (its possibility and sites) under the conditions of modern bourgeois society. The novelty of his approach to revolution lies in the fact that he directly connects it with historical experience. Benjamin's conception of revolution thus constitutes an integral part of his distinctive theory of historical knowledge, which is also essentially a theory of experience. Through a detailed study of Benjamin's writings on the topics of the child and the dream, and an analysis of his ideas of history, the fulfilled wish, similitude and communist society, this book shows how the conceptual analysis of his corpus can get to the heart of Benjamin's conception of revolutionary experience and distil its difficulties and mechanisms.
Elaborates the relationship between the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and the cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) through close readings of their respective texts as an example of the precariousness of cultural transmission in the present.
Walter Benjamin is universally recognised as one of the key thinkers of modernity: his writings on politics, language, literature, media, theology and law have had an incalculable influence on contemporary thought. Yet the problem of architecture in and for Benjamin's work remains relatively underexamined. Does Benjamin's project have an architecture and, if so, how does this architecture affect the explicit propositions that he offers us? In what ways are Benjamin's writings centrally caught up with architectural concerns, from the redevelopment of major urban centres to the movements that individuals can make within the new spaces of modern cities? How can Benjamin's theses help us to understand the secret architectures of the present? This volume takes up the architectural challenge in a number of innovative ways, collecting essays by both well-known and emerging scholars on time in cinema, the problem of kitsch, the design of graves and tombs, the orders of road-signs, childhood experience in modern cities, and much more. Engaged, interdisciplinary, bristling with insights, the essays in this collection will constitute an indispensable supplement to the work of Walter Benjamin, as well as providing a guide to some of the obscurities of our own present.
No other single author has so commanding a critical presence across so many disciplines within the arts and humanities, in so many national contexts, as Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). The belated reception of his work as a literary critic (dating from the late 1950s) has been followed by a rapid series of critical receptions in different contexts: Frankfurt Critical Theory and Marxism, Judaism, Film Theory, Post-structuralism, Philosophical Romanticism, and Cultural Studies.This collection brings together a selection of the most critically important items in the literature, across the full range of Benjamin's cultural-theoretical interests, from all periods of the reception of his writings, but focusing upon the most recent, to produce a comprehensive overview of the best critical literature.
This collection explores, in Adorno's description, `philosophy directed against philosophy'. The essays cover all aspects of Benjamin's writings, from his early work in the philosophy of art and language, through to the concept of history. The experience of time and the destruction of false continuity are identified as the key themes in Benjamin's understanding of history.
In the frenzied final years of the Weimar Republic, amid economic collapse and mounting political catastrophe, Walter Benjamin emerged as the most original practicing literary critic and public intellectual in the German-speaking world. Volume 2 of the Selected Writings is now available in paperback in two parts. In Part 1, Benjamin is represented by two of his greatest literary essays, "Surrealism" and "On the Image of Proust," as well as by a long article on Goethe and a generous selection of his wide-ranging commentary for Weimar Germany's newspapers. Part 2 contains, in addition to the important longer essays, "Franz Kafka," "Karl Kraus," and "The Author as Producer," the extended autobiographical meditation "A Berlin Chronicle," and extended discussions of the history of photography and the social situation of the French writer, previously untranslated shorter pieces on such subjects as language and memory, theological criticism and literary history, astrology and the newspaper, and on such influential figures as Paul Valery, Stefan George, Hitler, and Mickey Mouse.
Selections from the canon of Walter Benjamin focus on history, technology, and the nature of modernism, in essays on Charles Baudelaire, the crisis of meaning in the modern world, the value of the written word, and other topics. (Philosophy)
Walter Benjamin is often considered the key modern philosopher and critic of modern art. Tracing his influence on modern aesthetics and cultural history, Introducing Walter Benjamin highlights his commitment to political transformation of the arts as a means to bring about social change. Benjamin witnessed first-hand many of the cataclysmic events of modern European history. He took a critical stance on the dominant ideologies of Marxism, Zionism and Technocracy, and his attempt to flee Nazi Europe ultimately led to his suicide in 1940. With its brilliant combination of words and images, this is an ideal introduction to one of the most elusive philosophers.
Essays and reflections from one of the twentieth century’s most original cultural critics, with an introduction by Hannah Arendt. Walter Benjamin was an icon of criticism, renowned for his insight on art, literature, and philosophy. This volume includes his views on Kafka, with whom he felt a close personal affinity; his studies on Baudelaire and Proust; and his essays on Leskov and Brecht’s epic theater. Illuminations also includes his penetrating study “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” an enlightening discussion of translation as a literary mode; and his theses on the philosophy of history. Hannah Arendt selected the essays for this volume and introduces them with a classic essay about Benjamin’s life in a dark historical era. Leon Wieseltier’s preface explores Benjamin’s continued relevance for our times. Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and was also greatly inspired by the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht and Jewish mysticism as presented by Gershom Scholem.​
Walter Benjamin's most famous and influential essay remains The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Walter Benjamin and the Work of Art is the first book to provide a broad and dedicated analysis of this canonical work and its effect upon core contemporary concerns in the visual arts, aesthetics and the history of philosophy. The book is structured around three distinct areas: the extension of Benjamin's work; the question of historical connection; the importance of the essay in the development of criticism of both the visual arts and literature. Contributors to the volume include major Benjamin commentators, whose work has very much defined the reception of the essay, and leading philosophers, historians and aesthetician, whose approaches open up new areas of interest and relevance.
This collection of nine essays focuses on those writings of Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) on literature and language that have a direct relevance to contemporary literary theory, notably his analyses of myth, violence, history, criticism, literature, and mass media. In an introductory essay, David S. Ferris discusses the problem of history, aura, and resistance in Benjamin’s later work and in its reception. Samuel Weber, in a reading of Benjamin’s most influential essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” analyzes the status of the image and technology in Benjamin’s own terms and in the shadow of Heidegger. Rodolphe Gasché devotes himself to an analysis of Benjamin’s dissertation on the German Romantics, providing a valuable guide to a major text that has yet to appear in English translation.

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