International Workshop “Aktualität | Actuality in Walter Benjamin’s Philosophy” Sept. 26-27, 2014

This international workshop takes its cue from the (un)translatability of the German word Aktualität and proposes a shift of perspective from Benjamin’s contemporaneity, which has been widely discussed already, to the non-contemporaneity of his concept. Benjamin’s concept of Aktualität belongs to the most basic and, at the same time, most intricate parts of his thinking. Aktualität is not
reducible to the current or topical since he conceives of “wahre Aktualität” (GS II, 244) also in terms of modal degrees of actuality. These modal degrees of actuality exceed our common perception of (linear) time, since they bundle heterogeneous time modes of the past and the present in singular moments. Hence, the concept of Aktualität designates a temporal densification, in which different layers of past and presence instantaneously meet to form a denser or “higher” degree
of reality.
During this workshop, we will concentrate on and analyze how the concept of actuality is to be understood within the overall realm of Benjamin’s philosophy. We are especially interested in its relation to other Benjaminian key figures (e.g. origin, idea, trace, dialectical image), its entanglement with the philosophical tradition (Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Derrida et al.), and its implications for the socio-historical realm.


Friday 26th September

9:30-9:45h Welcome address
Sami Khatib, Stefano Marchesoni, Nassima Sahraoui

9:45-11:15h Irving Wohlfarth
Ist Benjamins Begriff der Aktualität heute aktualisierbar?
Chair: Sami Khatib, Stefano Marchesoni

–11:15-11:30h Coffee break–

11:30-13h Reading session I
Walter Benjamin: Announcement of the Journal ‘Angelus Novus’; Arcades S 1,3
Chair: Nadine Werner, Stefano Marchesoni

–13-14:30h Lunch break–

14:30-15:15h Tom Vandeputte (Goldsmiths/Sandberg)
The Actuality of Thought: Benjamin and the Figure of Kraus, 
Chair: Mauricio Gonzalez-Rozo

15:30-16:15h Jordan Skinner (Verso/CRMEP London)
Actuality, Resurrection, Conversion,
 Chair: Sebastian Truskolaski

–16:15-16:45h Coffee break–

16:45-18:00h Reading session II
Walter Benjamin: On the Concept of History, Arcades K 2,3
Chair: Sami Khatib, Jan Sieber
Saturday, 27th September

9:45-11:15h Andrew Benjamin
The Actuality of Revolution. Notes on Kant and Benjamin
Chair: Sami Khatib, Nassima Sahraoui

–11:15-11:30h Coffee break–

11:30-13h Reading session III
Walter Benjamin: “Convolute N”, Arcades Project (excerpts)
Chair: Marc Berdet, Ori Rotlevy, Nassima Sahraoui

–13-14:30h Lunch break–

14:30-15:15h Tammy L. Castelein (Leuven/Amsterdam)
Benjamin & Heidegger: Aktualität versus Augenblick,
 Chair: Yanik Avila

15:30-16:15h Leena Petersen (HU Berlin),
Actuality and Decay: On Walter Benjamin’s Origin of the German Mourning Play, 
Chair: Juliane Prade

–16:15-16:45h Coffee break–

16:45-17:30h Ben Hjorth (Monash)
Benjamin’s and Anne Carson’s translation of Sophokles’ Antigone,
 Chair: Betty Schulz

17:45-18:15h Closing Discussion

Achim Geisenhanslüke (Frankfurt), Sami Khatib (Berlin), Stefano Marchesoni (Trento), Nassima Sahraoui (Frankfurt) in Kooperation mit dem Philosophischen Kolloquium: Kritische Theorie (Frankfurter Benjamin-Vorträge).


Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Raum IG 1.314 (“Eisenhower-Raum”)
Grüneburgplatz 1
60323 Frankfurt am Main

Cite this blog post
Sami Khatib (2014, September 15). International Workshop “Aktualität | Actuality in Walter Benjamin’s Philosophy” Sept. 26-27, 2014. ANTHROPOLOGICAL MATERIALISM. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from

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