09 Jan 2019 – 11 Jan 2019

Forces of Education: Benjamin and the Possibility of a Global Pedagogy

Venue: ZfL Berlin and Walter Benjamin Archive Berlin
Contact: Dennis Johannßen, und Dominik Zechner,

Workshop for Young Benjamin Scholars

Lectures and Seminars featuring Ilit Ferber (Tel Aviv) and Freddie Rokem (Jerusalem)

Organized by Dennis Johannßen (Easton) and Dominik Zechner (New York)

The workshop provides a platform for young Benjamin scholars to participate in an international debate revolving around Benjamin’s early work in order to develop a global, transcultural, and interlinguistic perspective on the connection between politics, learning, and education in Benjamin’s work and life. Our gathering will focus on Benjamin’s early writings on the critique of culture and education, produced in the context of his participation in the German Youth Movement, and their afterlife in Benjamin’s later writings on pedagogy, history, language, childhood, and theater.

The main topics to be discussed include the concept of youth, school reform, and problems of education. By discussing these themes, we hope to gain new insights into the pedagogical discourses of the 20th and 21st centuries and the crisis of today’s neoliberal educational institutions (»Bologna«), and to develop the basis for a global and transcultural political pedagogy. Benjamin’s pedagogy offers an understanding of education in and through language, marked by a literary politics that questions the principles and institutions of bourgeois academia.

Furthermore, we hope to explore the manifold continuities between Benjamin’s early writings and his later texts, for instance regarding the concept of experience, Benjamin’s understanding of language, and the idea of »educative violence,« invoked at a key juncture in Benjamin’s essay »Toward a Critique of Violence.« Benjamin’s thoughts on Brecht’s works and the didactic function of epic theater as well as his reflections on media and technology in relation to his radio plays will also be part of our workshop agenda.

The workshop will be held in English and German.

This event is sponsored by the International Walter Benjamin Society, the Walter Benjamin Archive, and the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin (ZfL).


Wednesday, 09 Jan 2019
Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et.

5 pm

6–6.15 pm
Dennis Johannßen (Easton) / Dominik Zechner (New York): Begrüßung

6.15–7.45 pm Keynote Lecture by Ilit Ferber (Tel Aviv)
»In Voice Land«. Benjamin on Air

Thursday, 10 Jan 2019
Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et.

10.00–12.30 am Master Class with Freddie Rokem (Jerusalem)
»Learning to Learn«. Benjamin’s Pedagogy and Brecht’s Lehrstücke

2–3.15 pm Panel I: Improvision

  • Matthias Dreyer (Rostock): Den Geist »im fernsten Gedanken erblicken«. Benjamin, Wyneken und das Kindertheater
  • Mareike Schildmann (Berlin): Mimesis. Theatralität der Erziehung bei Walter Benjamin

3.45–5 pm Panel II: Medialities

  • Alexandre Vaz (Florianópolis): Walter Benjamin: Radio as Bildung and Criticism
  • Patricia Gwozdz (Potsdam): Being Popular! Formen und Funktionen »aktiver Volkstümlichkeit“ nach Walter Benjamin in den Sozialen Medien

Friday, 11 Jan 2019
Venue: Akademie der Künste, Walter Benjamin Archiv, Luisenstr. 60, 10117 Berlin
Attention: The number of participants is very limited due to lack of space. Please contact the organisers before your visit: Dennis Johannßen and Dominik Zechner

10.00–12.30 am Sprechsaal: Erziehung zur Politik
Moderation: Dennis Johannßen und Dominik Zechner

2–3.45 pm Panel III: Antinomien der Jugend

  • Clemens–Carl Härle (Siena): Infans
  • Jonas Rosenbrück (Evanston): Studentenmut und Blödigkeit. Benjamin und die Gefahr der Jugend
  • Ulrich Mathias Gerr (Oldenburg): Walter Benjamin: Eine Pädagogik der Extreme

4.15–5.30 pm Panel IV: Aberrations of Bildung

  • Myrto Aspioti (Oxford): Reading »Berliner Kindheit« as a Theory of Childhood
  • Sofia Cumming (Norwich): Issues of Inheritance. Walter Benjamin and the Ethics of Knowledge

5.30–6 pm Schlussworte