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

Research Centre based in Sociology and run jointly with the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University, London


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Gesture: A Seminar and Workshop with Werner Hamacher (WBLRN / Warburg Institute), 1-2 Dec 2016

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Thursday, 1 December 2016 – A Seminar with Werner Hamacher

4-6pm, Richard Hoggart Building 256, Goldsmiths

** PLEASE NOTE: Due to personal reasons Professor Hamacher is no longer able to come to London, and the seminar has been cancelled. The workshop on Friday 2 December will still take place.

Prof. Werner Hamacher will lead a seminar on his essay, “The Gesture in the Name: On Benjamin and Kafka” (from Premises) / “Die Geste im Namen” (from Entferntes Verstehen), in Richard Hoggart Building 256 at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Prof. Hamacher asks all participants to please read the text and prepare questions for him in advance of the seminar. (Click here for English translation; German original

All welcome; seats available on a first come, first served basis.

Contact: j.ng [at] gold.ac.uk

Friday, 2 December 2016 – A Workshop

9:30am-6pm, Lecture Room, The Warburg Institute

An interdisciplinary workshop on the philosophic, literary, art historical “language of gestures,” with special attention to the work of Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben.

Participants: Andrew Benjamin (London Graduate School / Kingston University / Monash University), Philipp Ekardt (Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Project), Christopher Johnson (Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Project), David Freedberg (Warburg Institute), Werner Hamacher (European Graduate School), Eckart Marchand (Warburg Institute / Bilderfahrzeuge Project), Julia Ng (Goldsmiths, University of London), Caroline van Eck (University of Cambridge).

** PLEASE NOTE: Due to personal reasons Professor Hamacher is no longer able to attend the workshop.

The Workshop on Gesture addresses a truly interdisciplinary topic currently being explored by scholars from art history, dance studies, cinema studies, and philosophy. Drawing on research in ethnology, anthropology, psychology, and neuropsychology, art historians, like Aby Warburg, Rudolf Wittkower, Caroline van Eck, and David Freedberg, have variously redescribed and theorized gesture. Philosophers and literary theorists, like Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Werner Hamacher, and Andrew Benjamin, have plumbed gesture for its ability to mediate meaning(s). Given this, the Workshop will variously attempt to revaluate the corporeality, contingency, and temporality that enable gesture in the first place, even as it assesses the various ways gesture has been, for better or worse, abstracted. Its working premise is that nowadays we see a gradual fading of the symbol in the face of other forms of mediation, and that this lends urgency to the study of gesture. More particularly still, the Workshop will attempt to trace the lines that join gesture in life, on stage, and in the visual arts and the conceptions of gesture promoted by Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben.

This Workshop, then, affords an opportunity, then, to address questions such as: How might a history of gesture be written? What kinds of aesthetic, rhetorical, and/or truth claims does gesture make? In what sense is gesture an event, a sign, or a form of expression? What are the qualitative and conceptual differences between gestures that occur in the laboratory, a play, a painting, or on a page of philosophy? To address such questions, the Workshop will consider the dynamics of producing and receiving gesture as a historical, empirical, and philosophic problem.

Program:

10:00 Christopher Johnson (WI/BFZ), Welcome: Some Gestures towards Gesture

10:20 Caroline van Eck (University of Cambridge), “Eloquentia corporis as a Theory of Mind: Intentionality and Inanimate Movement”

11:05 Eckart Marchand (WI/BFZ), “Baxandall meets Belting: Gestures in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Paintings”

11:50 Philipp Ekardt (WI/BFZ), “Gesture and Discernment: The Power of Feelings according to Alexander Kluge”

12:35 Lunch

1:30 David Freedberg (WI), “The Paradox of the Pathosformel”

2:15 Julia Ng (Goldsmiths), “Sketching the Sky Torn Asunder: Gesture in Benjamin’s Kafka”

3:00 Coffee, tea break

3:15 Andrew Benjamin (London Graduate School, Kingston University), “Empathy and the Doubling of Gesture”

4:00 Roundtable discussion, led by Josh Cohen (Goldsmiths)

If you wish to attend please register by clicking here.

Contact: johnson [at] bilderfahrzeuge.org

Event page at the Warburg institute.


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On Justice: Variations On a Theme Borrowed From Benjamin in 1916 (II)

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Variation Two: Massimiliano Tomba (Padova) reconsiders Benjamin’s idea of justice as a transformative form of anticipation that carries its own criterion of its rightness.

28 Apr 2016
1:00pm – 6:00pm
LG01, Professor Stuart Hall Building

In the second of this two-part event, Massimiliano Tomba will reconsider Benjamin’s idea of divine violence—made famous in the essay “Towards the Critique of Violence”—as a form of anticipation that might be politically transformative because it carries its own criterion of its rightness.

Massimiliano Tomba is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Padova. His research focuses mainly on modern German philosophy, critical theory and globalization. He is co-organizer of an initiative titled ‘Next Generation Global Studies (NGGS)’ which aims at reconsidering predominant schemes of interpretation of global societies in order to overcome prevailing Eurocentric perspectives of political space and time. His work has involved theorists such as Kant, Hegel and post-Hegelian thought, Marx, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor Adorno. Among his  publications are Krise und Kritik bei Bruno Bauer. Kategorien des Politischen im nachhegelschen Denken, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 2005; La vera politica. Kant e Benjamin: la possibilità della giustizia, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2006; Marx’s Temporalities, Leiden, Brill, 2013.


In October 1916, Gershom Scholem copied into his diary a passage “from a notebook Walter Benjamin lent [him]” under the heading, “Notes Toward a Work on the Category of Justice.” Never included in either the two-volume or the seven-volume collected works and only reappearing upon publication of Scholem’s diaries, these “Notes” nonetheless represent a crucial juncture in the development of Benjamin’s thinking on the political. From one direction, the “Notes” are the culmination of intense discussions between Benjamin and Scholem on the concept of historical time, which issued into a number of important reflections on tragedy, time-reckoning, and language. In the other direction, the “Notes” inaugurated a series of objections and responses between the two friends that include Scholem’s own set of theses on the category of justice from 1919 and 1925, Scholem’s writings on Jonah, and texts surrounding Benjamin’s discussion of law and violence that come to a head with a number of fragments on lying circa 1923.

Using the “Notes Toward a Work on the Category of Justice” as its point of departure, this two-part event takes up the invitation to read together a “convolute” of shorter or lesser-known texts that contribute to a larger theme that Benjamin did not perhaps execute fully, but therefore provides a new context for understanding better known writings such as the Language essay or “Towards the Critique of Violence.” Each day will pivot around a variation on the theme, with presentations and seminar-style discussion based on pre-circulated texts.

For more information on the schedule and for a copy of the texts please visit https://benjaminonjustice.wordpress.com/


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On Justice: Variations On a Theme Borrowed From Benjamin in 1916 (I)

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Variation One: Peter Fenves (Northwestern) discusses Benjamin’s concept of justice in relation to whether there can ever be a thing rightfully possessed.

20 Apr 2016
1:00pm – 6:00pm
Lecture Theatre, Ben Pimlott Building

In the first of this two-part event, Peter Fenves discusses the provenance of Benjamin’s notes on justice in Kant’s Doctrine of Right, and asks, with Benjamin, whether there can ever be a thing rightfully possessed.

Peter Fenves, Joan and Sarepta Harrison Professor of Literature, is professor of German, Comparative Literary Studies, and Jewish Studies as well as adjunct professor of Philosophy, Political Science, and English. He is the author of A Peculiar Fate: Metaphysics and World-History in Kant (Cornell University Press, 1991), “Chatter”: Language and History in Kierkegaard (Stanford University Press, 1993), Arresting Language: From Leibniz to Benjamin (Stanford University Press, 2001), and Late Kant: Towards Another Law of the Earth (Routledge, 2003), which was translated into German in 2010; and most recently The Messianic Reduction: Walter Benjamin and the Shape of Time (Stanford University Press, 2010).


In October 1916, Gershom Scholem copied into his diary a passage “from a notebook Walter Benjamin lent [him]” under the heading, “Notes Toward a Work on the Category of Justice.” Never included in either the two-volume or the seven-volume collected works and only reappearing upon publication of Scholem’s diaries, these “Notes” nonetheless represent a crucial juncture in the development of Benjamin’s thinking on the political. From one direction, the “Notes” are the culmination of intense discussions between Benjamin and Scholem on the concept of historical time, which issued into a number of important reflections on tragedy, time-reckoning, and language. In the other direction, the “Notes” inaugurated a series of objections and responses between the two friends that include Scholem’s own set of theses on the category of justice from 1919 and 1925, Scholem’s writings on Jonah, and texts surrounding Benjamin’s discussion of law and violence that come to a head with a number of fragments on lying circa 1923.

Using the “Notes Toward a Work on the Category of Justice” as its point of departure, this two-part event takes up the invitation to read together a “convolute” of shorter or lesser-known texts that contribute to a larger theme that Benjamin did not perhaps execute fully, but therefore provides a new context for understanding better known writings such as the Language essay or “Towards the Critique of Violence.” Each day will pivot around a variation on the theme, with presentations and seminar-style discussion based on pre-circulated texts.

For more information on the schedule and for a copy of the texts please visithttps://benjaminonjustice.wordpress.com/

Click here for further information.


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Benjamin and the Literary: Romantic Forms

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A Walter Benjamin London Research Network conference of new work on Benjamin’s doctoral thesis on Romanticism, followed by a workshop on its most influential interpretations.

11 Mar 2016
10:00am – 6:00pm
302, Hatcham House (St James 19)

Benjamin’s doctoral dissertation, The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism, has long functioned not only as a lens through which to synthesize the theories of art and knowledge in early Romanticism, but also as a cornerstone for understanding Benjamin’s own theories and practices of criticism. In harnessing his affirmation of criticism’s ability to unfold the potential immanent to works of art, such readings proffer upon the dissertation an undeniable political and historical force. Departing from ‘the literary’ both as a conceptually privileged mode of expression and as a configuration of linguistic experience, this workshop brings together emerging scholars with the aim of directing attention to under-analyzed aspects of Benjamin’s early work on criticism and critique, and to the possible articulations of politics and history contained therein. Presentations will focus on: the relation between criticism, philosophy and literature; irony; the afterlives of Benjamin’s dissertation; allegory and the Baroque. This will be followed by a workshop on the dissertation and selected readings.

Conference website


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Werner Hamacher – “Image and Time” (Walter Benjamin London Research Network)

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One of the world’s seminal readers of Walter Benjamin inaugurates new philosophy research network with a workshop on Benjamin’s understanding of the image.

23 Oct 2015
10:00am – 5:00pm
Room D111, Granary Building, Central Saint Martins

The day will be split into four sessions, each devoted to a selection of short texts and excerpts. Texts under discussion will be distributed ahead of the workshop in German and English.

Participation in the workshop is limited. Please register your interest by sending a letter of intent and (in the case of PhD students) a thesis abstract by Oct 5, 2015 to j.ng [at] gold.ac.uk, j.cohen [at] gold.ac.uk, and a.benjamin [at] kingston.ac.uk.

Werner Hamacher is a professor emeritus of comparative literature at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, and a professor of Philosophy and Literary Theory at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. (Frankfurt am Main) http://www.egs.edu/faculty/werner-hamacher/biography/

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought (CPCT) at Goldsmiths, University of London collaborates with the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, the London Graduate School at Kingston University, and Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, in a network of research and scholarly exchange related to the work of Walter Benjamin. The network brings together scholars and research students in the London area, and facilitates the exchange of advanced, philosophical and literary-theoretical research on Benjamin between the UK, other parts of Europe, and around the world. The network is co-chaired by Julia Ng (co-director of CPCT), Josh Cohen (English and Comparative Literature), and Andrew Benjamin (LGS Kingston / Monash).

The network hosts an annual lecture series; and text-based workshops that intersperse short formal presentations and close textual analysis of one or several key writings by Benjamin along a chosen theme.


The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought (CPCT) is a new centre for philosophical inquiry at Goldsmiths. For further information please visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/sociology/research-centres/cpct/

To sign up for announcements of upcoming events, please subscribe to our mailing list at:http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cpct-announce
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www.gold.ac.uk/…/walter-benjamin/


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Werner Hamacher: “Now: Time” (Walter Benjamin London Research Network)

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One of the world’s seminal readers of Walter Benjamin inaugurates new philosophy research network with a talk on Benjamin’s idea of historical time.

22 Oct 2015
5:00pm – 7:00pm
137a, Richard Hoggart Building

Werner Hamacher is a professor emeritus of comparative literature at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, and a professor of Philosophy and Literary Theory at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. (Frankfurt am Main) http://www.egs.edu/faculty/werner-hamacher/biography/

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought (CPCT) at Goldsmiths, University of London collaborates with the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, the London Graduate School at Kingston University, and Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, in a network of research and scholarly exchange related to the work of Walter Benjamin. The network brings together scholars and research students in the London area, and facilitates the exchange of advanced, philosophical and literary-theoretical research on Benjamin between the UK, other parts of Europe, and around the world. The network is co-chaired by Julia Ng (co-director of CPCT), Josh Cohen (English and Comparative Literature), and Andrew Benjamin (LGS Kingston / Monash).

The network hosts an annual lecture series; and text-based workshops that intersperse short formal presentations and close textual analysis of one or several key writings by Benjamin along a chosen theme.

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought (CPCT) is a new centre for philosophical inquiry at Goldsmiths. For further information please visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/sociology/research-centres/cpct/

To sign up for announcements of upcoming events, please subscribe to our mailing list at:http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cpct-announce

www.gold.ac.uk/…/walter-benjamin/