A Companion to the Works of Walter Benjamin

A Companion to the Works of Walter Benjamin

Edited by Rolf J. Goebel

An advanced introduction to Benjamin's work and its actualization for our own times.
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) has emerged as one of the leading cultural critics of the twentieth century. His work encompasses aesthetics, metaphysical language and narrative theories, German literary history, philosophies of history, the intersection of Marxism and Messianic thought, urban topography, and the development of photography and film. Benjamin defined the task of the critic as one that blasts endangered moments of the past out of the continuum of history so that they attain new significance. This volume of new essays employs this principle of actualization as its methodological program in offering a new advanced introduction to Benjamin's own work. The essays analyze Benjamin's central texts, themes, terminologies, and genres in their original contexts while simultaneously situating them in new parameters, such as contemporary media, memory culture, constructions of gender, postcoloniality, and theories of urban topographies. The Companion brings together an international group of established and emerging scholars to explicate Benjamin's actuality from a multidisciplinary perspective. Designed for audiences interested in literary criticism, cultural studies, and neighboring disciplines, the volume serves as a stimulus for new debates about Benjamin's intellectual legacy today.

Contributors: Wolfgang Bock, Willi Bolle, Dianne Chisholm, Adrian Daub, Dominik Finkelde, Eric Jarosinski, Lutz Koepnick, Vivian Liska, Karl Ivan Solibakke, Marc de Wilde, Bernd Witte

Rolf J. Goebel is Distinguished Professor of German and Chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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Table of Contents

Benjamin's Criticism of Language and Literature - Wolfgang Bock
The Presence of the Baroque: Benjamin's Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels in Contemporary Contexts - Dominik Finkelde
Lost Orders of the Day: Benjamin's Einbahnstraße - Wolfgang Bock
Literature as the Medium of Collective Memory: Reading Benjamin's Einbahnstraße, "Der Erzähler," and "Das Paris des Second Empire bei Baudelaire" - Bernd Witte
Benjamin in the Age of New Media - Lutz Koepnick
One Little Rule: On Benjamin, Autobiography, and Never Using the Word "I" - Eric Jarosinski
The Passagen-Werk Revisited: The Dialectics of Fragmentation and Reconfiguration in Urban Modernity - Karl Ivan Solibakke
Benjamin's Politics of Remembrance: A Reading of the Theses Contained in "Über den Begriff der Geschichte" - Marc de Wilde
The Legacy of Benjamin's Messianism: Giorgio Agamben and other Contenders - Vivian Liska
Paris on the Amazon?: Postcolonial Interrogations of Benjamin's European Modernism - Willi Bolle
Benjamin's Gender, Sex, and Eros - Dianne Chisholm
Sonic Dreamworlds: Benjamin, Adorno, and the Phantasmagoria of the Opera House - Adrian Daub


[A] valuable, very readable and often stimulating companion and a real asset to contemporary discussion in the field. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

Taken as a whole, this collection offers us, rather than a "Marxist" Benjamin or a "messianic" Benjamin, what could be called a "digital Benjamin." JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES

The authors of the essays in this book do an excellent job of balancing their subjects. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

This book will stand well among the many essay collections attesting to Benjamin's rich intellectual legacy and to the broad, intense appeal of his work across disciplines as varied, and interrelated, as cultural studies, literature, geography, gender studies, and media studies. CHOICE

Goebel presents a wonderful collection of essays that deal with Benjamin's most fundamental concepts on language, rhetoric, translation, fragmentation, montage, messianism, politics, and phantasmagoria. Many of these interdisciplinary essays "re-read" his works against the background of current theoretical conceptualizations (media theory, gender studies, postcolonialism) . . . . [E]xcellent . . . . GERMAN QUARTERLY

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