Thursday, 15 November 2012

Conference: The Philosophy of Walter Benjamin


Two-Day Conference, Friday December 14 & Saturday, December 15 2012
Goldsmiths College, University of London (Ben Pimlott Building, Lecture Theatre)
INC – Goldsmiths Continental Philosophy 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?




Day One: Friday, 14 Dec

10:00 - 10:45, Howard Caygill (CRMEP, Kingston) 'Keynote Address'
10:45 - 11:30, Paula Schwebel (Potsdam) 'Benjamin's Monadology: From
Idealism to Historical Materialism'
11:30 - 12:15, Blair Ogden (Oxford) 'Walter Benjamin's Philosophical
Conception of Happiness'
12:15 - 13:00, Jonathan Gray (Royal Holloway) 'Hamann and Benjamin on
the Concept of Experience'
13:00 - 14:00, LUNCH
14:00 - 14:45, Djordje Popovic (Minnesota) 'Theology of Hell:
Continuity of Thought in Walter Benjamin'
14:45 - 15:30, John Merrick (CRMEP, Kingston) 'Benjamin's Non-Hegelian
15:30 - 16:15, Jan Urbich (Jena/Weimar) 'Under Cover: Hegel's Logic in
Walter Benjamin's Epistemo-Critical Preface'
16:15 - 16:45, COFFEE BREAK
16:45 - 17:30, Elise Derroitte (KU Leuven) 'The Critic is the New
'Philosopher of the Spirit'. Comparing Benjamin and Fichte's
Conceptions of Critique'
17:30 - 18:15, Sami Khatib (FU Berlin/Jan Van Eyck) 'Teleology Without
End - Walter Benjamin's Methodological Nihilism'
18:15 - 19:00, Scott Ritner (New School) 'The God of Negation - Divine
Intervention in the Thought of Walter Benjamin, Georges Bataille and
Simone Weil'

Day Two: Saturday, 15 Dec

10:00 - 10:45, Lea Barbisan (Paris, Sorbonne) 'Körper - Leib -
Gestalt: Benjamin's Phenomenology of the Body'
10:45 - 11:30, Lucie Mercier (CRMEP, Kingston) 'Walter Benjamin on
Translation: a Strategic Hermeneutics of History?'
11:30 - 12:15, Hanping Chiu (Tamkang, Taipei) 'Translation as
Expression: Reinventing Benjamin's Language Philosophy'
12:15 - 13:00, Florian Telsnig (Vienna) 'The Monadological Tendency in
Benjamin's Philosophy of the Name'
13:00 - 14:00, LUNCH
14:00 - 14:45, Leena Petersen (Sussex) 'Poetics of the Space in-Between'
14:45 - 15:30, Phil Homburg (Sussex) 'Symbol, Sign and Fetish: Walter
Benjamin and the Post-Kantian Concept of the Symbol'
15:30 - 16:15, Maria Andrade (Universidad de los Andes) 'Exiled
Between Romantic Absolute and Baroque Allegory'
16:15 - 16:45, COFFEE BREAK
16:45 - 17:30, Ben Noys (Chichester) 'Emergency Brake: Benjamin and
the Critique of Accelerationism'
17:30 - 18:15, Tom Allen (Independent) 'Fixed Manifestations:
Benjamin, Blanqui and the Caption of History'
18:15 - 19:00, Christian Garland (FU Berlin) 'Redeeming the Past in
the Present: Benjamin's Messianic Materialist Philosophy of History'

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