Wednesday lecture
15 Jan 2020 · 6.30 pm

Susanne Lüdemann (LMU München): Die Perlentaucherin. Geschichte schreiben nach dem Traditionsbruch

Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage, Trajekte-Tagungsraum

The Pearl Diver is the title of the third part of Hannah Arendt’s essay on Walter Benjamin, published in 1968. Therein it becomes clear that it is Benjamin himself who is the pearl diver. The pearls stand for quotes that have been torn from their original context (“thought fragments”) and the new way of dealing with the past that Benjamin had found, by organizing his quotes so as to illuminate one another. Whether or not Arendt’s interpretation of Benjamin is accurate or not, she seems to be also describing her own approach to seeking “new ways to come to terms with the past” after the break in tradition in the 20th century. Her attempts go back to The Origins of Totalitarianism where she articulated unease with the narratives of academic history and their historiographic methodologies for the first time. The lecture reconstructs these attempts and explores the contemporaneity of Arendt’s thoughts on history today.

Susanne Lüdemann has been Professor for Modern German Literature and Literary Studies at the LMU Munich since 2012. Before that she was Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago. At the University of Konstanz, she was Professor for Modern German Literature and Cultural Theory from 2006 to 2008. From 2000 to 2006 she was research assistant for the ZfL project Poetologie der Körperschaften.

Her research interests include forms of philological knowledge, jurisprudence and literature, theories of modernity and the borders between political theory, literature and psychoanalysis.

Publications (selected)

  • Was heißt Deutung? Verhandlungen zwischen Recht, Philologie und Psychoanalyse (ed. with Thomas Vesting, Munich 2017)
  • Between Exemplarity and Singularity: Thinking through Particulars in Philosophy, Literature, and Law (ed. with Michèle Lowrie, Abingdon/New York 2015)
  • Jacques Derrida: Zur Einführung (2nd enlarged edition, Hamburg 2013); engl. translation: Politics of Deconstruction: A New Introduction to Jacques Derrida (Redwood City 2014)
  • Der Überlebende und sein Doppel. Kulturwissenschaftliche Analysen zum Werk Elias Canettis (Freiburg 2008)
  • Metaphern der Gesellschaft: Studien zum soziologischen und politischen Imaginären (München 2004)


In German.

Admission is free of charge, there is no need to register in advance.

See also:
Hannah Arendt: Walter Benjamin – III. Der Perlentaucher, in: Merkur, Nr. 240, April 1968