Sunday, 12 August 2012

Call for Papers:

'The Philosophy of Walter Benjamin'

One-Day Conference, December 14th, 2012 – Goldsmiths College, University of London
InC – Goldsmiths Continental Philosphy Research Group

The work of the German-Jewish critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) spans a vast array of themes, ranging from the metaphysics of youth to the Paris arcades. His writings on Goethe and Scheerbart; Kafka and Baudelaire, as well as his work on the relationship between art and technology continue to fascinate and polarize in equal measure. His singular intersection of Marxian and Jewish thought is amply evidenced in the extensive correspondence with Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, Bertold Brecht and Hannah Arendt, amongst others. Undoubtedly it is the sheer breadth of Benjamin's interests that accounts for the enduring concern with his often fragmentary work across academic disciplines. That is to say, Benjamin is no longer a stranger at the Academy. Nevertheless, a central aspect of Benjamin's work is all-too-often overlooked when his aesthetic and literary works are treated in isolation. The manifest content of Benjamin's writing is never merely incidental: rather, it is shot through with a burgeoning philosophical project – from the 'Programme of the Coming Philosophy' (1917) to the 'Theses on the Concept of History' (1940). In this regard it appears that recent anniversary of Benjamin's birth in 1892 warrants a re-appraisal of this legacy by asking the question: how can the various strands of Benjamin's work be engaged to illuminate the unfolding of his philosophical position, and – vice versa – how does Benjamin's philosophy illuminate other aspects of his thought?

This conference aims, then – on the one hand – to explore Benjamin's thought in relation to the various philosophical traditions that inform his project (Leibniz, Kant, Schlegel, Lukács etc.), and – on the other hand – to ask how these influences continue to operate between the lines even where Benjamin is not explicitly concerned with the philosophical canon? In short: how are we to understand the philosophy of Walter Benjamin? 

We ask potential speakers to submit abstracts of no more than 200 words to by September 30th. The full programme will be announced in due course.

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