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: Dominik Finkelde, Wolfgang Bock, Bernd Witte, Lutz Koepnick, Eric Jarosinski, Karl Ivan Solibakke, Marc de Wilde, Vivian Liska, Willi Bolle, Dianne Chisholm, Adrian Daub.
Rolf J. Goebel —
Rolf J. Goebel is Professor of German at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
A Companion to the works of Walter Benjamin, ed. by Rolf J. Goebel. Camden House, 2009. 314p bibl index afp ISBN 1-57113-367-4; ISBN 9781571133670. Reviewed in 2010mar CHOICE.
In this fine volume, Goebel (Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville) brings together 12 original essays by scholars interested in resituating the philosophy and cultural criticism of German thinker Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). The contributors approach the complexity of Benjamin's thought through the lenses of more recent intellectual trends, including postcolonial studies, critical geography, and media studies. One of the collection's greatest strengths is its attention to some of Benjamin's works that traditionally receive less critical attention, for example, his autobiographical Einbahnstrasse (One Way Street, 1928) and his many essays on language. 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.
Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. -- M. Uebel, University of Texas