Benjamin and Judaism Conference
Thursday, March 5 • 4:10 p.m. • Linderman Library, 200
Dr. Michael Jennings
“Toward the Apokatastatic Will: Patristics and Esoteric Judaism in Walter Benjamin’s Late Theological Politics”
The lecture examines the eschatology that is implicit in Walter
Benjamin’s late work: the writings that grew from the Arcades Project and the book on Baudelaire. The theory of modernity developed there is not merely analytical: it subtends an understanding that the proper use of technologized media accelerates the erasure of the
conditions that currently obtain. It is, in short, an apocalyptic
eschatology. This line in Benjamin’s late thought is organized not
by the concept of messianism, but by the theological concept of
apokatastasis. Benjamin’s use of theological material is always local and always specific to a particular problem. His work deploys a “situational” theological politics oriented to the task at hand, a
recombinatory logic that draws freely on elements of the Christian and Jewish traditions alike.
Michael Jennings is the Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages in the Department of
German at Princeton University. He is the author of two books on Walter Benjamin: Dialectical Images: Walter Benjamin's Theory of Literary Criticism (Cornell, 1987), and with Howard Eiland, Walter Bejamin: A Critical Life (Harvard, 2013). He also serves as the general editor of the standard English-language edition of Benjamin's works, Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings (Harvard, 1996ff.), and the editor of a series of collections of Benjamin's essays.
Jennings sits on the executive committees of the Program in European Cultural Studies and the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Humanistic Studies. He is an associated faculty member in the
Department of Art and Archaeology and the School of Architecture.
Friday, March 6 • 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. • Linderman Library, 200
Paper Presentations and Discussions
Dr. Brian Britt, Virginia Tech
Dr. Christopher Driscoll, Lehigh University
Dr. Udi Greenberg, Dartmouth College
Dr. Eric Jacobson, University of Roehampton
Dr. Nitzan Lebovic, Lehigh University
Dr. Michael Jennings, Princeton University
Dr. Annika Thiem, Villanova University