Walter Benjamin, a Jewish German literary critic of modest reputation during the interwar years, has become an intellectual celebrity in our times. In flight from Nazi Germany, he took refuge in Paris during the 1930s before dying in 1940 in a vain effort to escape to America. In this essay, I analyze his ideas as conceived in his Paris exile, with particular attention to his turn to the topics of memory and of history and of the relationship between them. I close with some thoughts on how his ideas about memory's redeeming power played into the humanist Marxism of the intellectuals of the 1960s and subsequently the preoccupation with memory in late twentieth-century scholarship.
The Consolation of History in a Paris Exile
Patrick H. Hutton
Michael D. Jackson
In 2003, anthropologist and poet Michael Jackson went to French Catalonia with the intention of crossing the Pyrenees on the anniversary of Walter Benjamin's fateful journey on 25-26 September 1940. Retracing Benjamin's steps over a tortuous terrain of vineyards, stony paths and Mediterranean maquis, Jackson meditates on the life and work of the great twentieth-century philosopher, critical theorist, and essayist, as well as on the ways that events beyond our control or comprehension impact on and shape the course of our individual journeys through life.
Die für Bertolt Brechts Stück Mahagonny (1929) zentrale Metapher der "Netzestadt" soll hier dazu verwendet werden, den Kompositionsstil von Walter Benjamins Passagen-Projekt (1927-1940) im Sinne einer netzhaften Essayistik zu erklären. Dieser methodologische Transfer ist nicht kausalgenetisch begründet (dass etwa Benjamins Schreibweise von Brecht beeinflusst worden wäre), sondern er beruht auf einer ästhetischen Wahlverwandtschaft. Mit der Metapher des netzhaften Schreibens läßt sich die von Benjamin entwickelte wissenschaftliche Großstadt-Essayistik besonders treffend charakterisieren.
Violence, viral images and questioning the rule of law in Brazilian favelas
Jason B. Scott
In the past decade, images of fatal police shootings shared on social media have inspired protests against militarised policing policies and re-defined the ways marginalised communities seek justice. This article theorises the repetition of violent images and discusses how social media has become an important tool for localising popular critiques of the law. I provide an ethnographic account of a police shooting in a Brazilian favela (shantytown). I am particularly interested in how residents of the favela interpret law and justice in relationship to contemporaneous movements such as Black Lives Matter. Reflecting Walter Benjamin’s concept of mechanical reproduction, this case study demonstrates an ‘aura’ that is shaped by the social and legal context in which a violent image is produced, consumed and aggregated. This case study suggests the possibility for research examining the ways inclusionary social media platforms are increasingly co-opted by oppressive political institutions.
Neriko Musha Doerr
sociocultural conditions and power politics among those involved, I argue that the notion of global learner acts as what Walter Benjamin calls a phantasmagoria: ‘a magic-lantern show of optical illusions’ ( Buck-Morss 1997: 81 ). The notion of phantasmagoria
Modernist Aesthetics and American Underground Film
sensory anesthesia” (302). The specific contribution of Walter Benjamin’s canonical essay “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” to this topic is that it makes a speculative yet compelling case for considering a shock aesthetic as a way of training the senses of
Inquiring the Relationship between Exception and Democracy
. Benjamin , Walter . 1996 . “ Critique of Violence. ” Pp. 236 – 252 in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, vol. 1: 1913–1926 , ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael Jennings . Cambridge : Harvard University Press . Camp Keith , Linda , and Steven
Critical Notes on Agamben’s Political Messianism
Throughout history, Jewish conceptions of justice, hope and redemption have inspired political and cultural visions within as well as beyond the Jewish tradition. Examples from the past century range from Ernst Bloch to Walter Benjamin and Jacques
Nostalgia in the Imagined Lives of Auguste Blanqui
Patrick H. Hutton
Louis-Auguste Blanqui ranks among the most famous apostles of the nineteenth-century French Revolutionary tradition. His commitment to that cause was bound up with his longing to tap once more the energy that had inspired the popular uprisings of the French Revolution. Such nostalgia came to define not only his tactics but also his way of life. In the process he fashioned a legend of his role as insurrectionary activist, and its nostalgic underpinnings would intrigue his twentieth-century biographers. Here I examine the way four among them draw out varied and conflicting meanings from a life powerfully invested in a conception of the future deeply embedded in the past.
Twofold Mobility in the Appropriation of Crime Fiction in Interwar Germany
This article is concerned with travelling detectives in two different but related senses. On the one hand, it considers the relevance of trains and other vehicles of mobility for detective fiction, both as a topic of fiction and a place of consumption. On the other hand, it registers that detective fiction has to “travel“ in a more abstract sense before the reading traveler can enjoy it. German publishers appropriated the genre, originally a nineteenth-century American and British invention, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Based on contemporary observations by German cultural critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer, the essay examines German crime-fiction dime novels from the interwar period, compares them to their American predecessors, and analyzes their relationship to mobility and cultural transfer. The text argues that the spatial mobility of the fictional detective is only possible in a specific cultural environment to which the moving but corporeally immobile reader has to be transferred imaginatively.