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Regents of the University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA 92617-3066)
Alexander Gelley (Project Director: March 2010 to May 2014)

Seminars for Higher Education Faculty
Education Programs

$124,703 (approved)
$124,703 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2010 – 9/30/2012

Walter Benjamin's Later Writings: The Arcades Project, Commodity Culture, Historiography

A five-week seminar for sixteen college and university teachers to study Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project and its impact on technology, media, and history.

Walter Benjamin's career extended from the end of the First World War to the beginning of the second. In contrast to figures like Freud, Heidegger, or Foucault who enjoyed widespread recognition and influence during their lifetime, Benjamin's significance as a theorist and writer only came after his death. But like them, Benjamin may be characterized, in Foucault's words, as one of the "initiators of discursive practices," authors who "produced not only their own work, but the possibility and the rules of formation of other texts." What is more, Benjamin's reputation has been singularly colored by a legendary 'afterlife.' Admittedly, the 'legend' of a writer should not supersede the interpretation of the works, but neither may it be ignored in evaluating their historical impact. It represents an indispensable index of cultural-political currents at a given moment.