The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre run jointly between the Departments of Sociology and English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, London

Reading the Epistemo-Critical Prologue: Workshop (13-14 January 2017)

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A Workshop

Friday, 13 January 2017
Room: DTH B9

Saturday, 14 January 2017
Room: DTH 109

The prologue to Walter Benjamin’s Trauerspiel book, written between 1923-25 and published in 1928, takes up a pivotal position in his work. More than a mere introduction, the text is a culmination and summary presentation of the philosophical concepts that Benjamin had begun to develop systematically at least since his early reflections on language of 1916 – the same year in which he had drafted the first outlines for his later book. In its attempt to articulate a new form of historico-philosophical interpretation, the text arguably serves as a point of transition between the metaphysics of the early writings and the materialist conception of history that would inform the later work. Even though the significance of the Vorrede has been consistently acknowledged by commentators, its dense and often forbidding prose has continued to puzzle readers. In this two-day event, we will undertake a close reading of a selection of key excerpts from the text, focusing on a number of philosophical concepts that will continue to play a crucial role in Benjamin’s work well beyond the Trauerspiel book: Presentation, Truth, Idea, Constellation, Name, Origin, and Monad. True, if only in their infidelity, to Benjamin’s recognition of language’s unruly relation to intention, such concepts simultaneously enact and resist philosophical closure, including the kind that would guarantee their privileged status as points of transition between metaphysics and materialism. Throughout these two days, then, we hope to shed light on Benjamin’s persistent concern with philosophy – a concern that is always at the same time an attempt to problematise the philosophical enterprise as such.

If you wish to participate, please send an email to before January 11 to receive the required readings.

Organised by Tom Vandeputte and Christopher Law

Reading sessions chaired by Mijael Jiménez, Christopher Law, Noa Levin, Florence Platford, Sebastian Truskolaski, Tom Vandeputte

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