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Aura and Reflection: Theory of Art, Media, and Aesthetics of Walter Benjamin

ENGL 778.401
crosslisted as: GRMN580, COML582


The international Benjamin fad is over. Now is the time to explore the achievements and limits of Benjamin’s thinking in a historic as well as theoretic, hermeneutical as well as the critical context. Central to the seminar are writings on the questions of art, media and aesthetic theory. Through these, we will present and discuss the traditions, concepts, and  development of Benjamin’s thinking starting from his first writings of his youth (1914/15) to his death in 1940. The tightly interwoven nature of Benjamin’s style and content is matched by few other philosophers. Therefore, we will discuss the expanse of genres in which his thinking takes form: theory becomes literary and literature becomes a form of reflection. Crossover between genres makes Benjamin’s texts difficult. The seminar should increase the students’ understandings of Benjamin’s way of thought through a reconstruction of the methodology of the texts. – Texts to be discussed in class will be available online.

 The primary course number for this course is GRMN580:401. Graduates will need permission from the instructor or the GRMN Dept. coordinator before registering for this course.