Walter Benjamin’s doctoral dissertation, The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism, has, for a number of decades, functioned not only as a lens through which to synthesize the diverse theories of art and knowledge in early German Romanticism, but also as a cornerstone for understanding Benjamin’s own theories and practices of criticism. In harnessing Benjamin’s 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. Arguably, however, this is accorded at the expense of detailed attention to the less determinate and occasionally elusive expressions of art’s relation to criticism and to philosophy that are to be found throughout Benjamin’s early writings, including in his dissertation itself. Taking ‘the literary’ as a site of departure, both as a conceptually privileged mode of artistic expression and as a specific configuration of linguistic experience, this conference and workshop brings together emerging scholars and PhD students working on Benjamin’s dissertation and related texts, with the aim of directing attention to underanalyzed aspects of Benjamin’s early work on criticism and critique, and to the possible articulations of politics and history contained therein.
Free and open to all — no registration required.