Essays of Walter Benjamin (VA4235.02)

Anne Thompson

The works of German philosopher and cultural theorist Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) endure as sources of fascination, inspiration and critical reflection across disciplines. With a focus on his significance for artists and curators, this seminar looks at selections from Benjamin’s famous and lesser-known writing, from his seminal essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” to his enigmatic masterwork the Arcades Project. Close readings of assigned texts are supplemented by lectures and student research on contemporary examples of Benjamin’s influence. A review of Benjamin’s tumultuous life provides a frame for his Marxist and antifascist positions, his analysis of the emergence of modern society, and his faith in the survival of art amid violence and repression. 

Learning Outcomes:
_develop an understanding of the significance of Walter Benjamin to contemporary thinkers and makers
_consider examples of how theory and philosophy can influence cultural praxis
_develop close reading and critical thinking skills
_increase comfort level with challenging texts

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Prior 4000-level coursework in art history or literature, and instructor's consent.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 2
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (2nd seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 12
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Art History , Fully In-Person , Literature , Philosophy , Second Seven Week , Two Credit , Visual Arts (VA)