Benjamin’s Figures: Dialogues on the Vocation of the Humanities
Responding to the financial crisis that is afflicting universities worldwide, this conference aims to rethink the specific role of the humanities today through the thought of philosopher of culture Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). True to the semantic potential of Greek aisthesis, Benjamin promotes aesthetics to an all-encompassing, interdisciplinary theory of experience. Indeed his use of multiple, at times carefully orchestrated voices in his texts radicalizes the notion of interdisciplinarity in ways which, we feel, still provides a vital source of inspiration.
In his analyses of cultural phenomena and the constellations to which he assigns them Benjamin shows himself unusually aware of the role of the philosopher/critic. Characteristically, this agent takes on different shapes in his texts: the angel of history, the narrator, the flaneur, the child, the dwarf, the collector – to name just some central personas. It is through these Benjaminian figures that we seek to reconsider the socio-critical vocation of the humanities for our time. The conference will be accompanied by a corresponding art project.
The call for papers is open until January 1, 2013.