Words of Light Theses on the Photography of History

ISBN-10: 0691002681
ISBN-13: 9780691002682
Edition: 1997
Authors: Eduardo Cadava
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Description: Here Eduardo Cadava demonstrates that Walter Benjamin articulates his conception of history through the language of photography. Focusing on Benjamin's discussions of the flashes and images of history, he argues that the questions raised by this  More...

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Book details

List price: $38.95
Copyright year: 1997
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 8/23/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 208
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.638

Here Eduardo Cadava demonstrates that Walter Benjamin articulates his conception of history through the language of photography. Focusing on Benjamin's discussions of the flashes and images of history, he argues that the questions raised by this link between photography and history touch on issues that belong to the entire trajectory of his writings: the historical and political consequences of technology, the relation between reproduction and mimesis, images and history, remembering and forgetting, allegory and mourning, and visual and linguistic representation. The book establishes the photographic constellation of motifs and themes around which Benjamin organizes his texts and thereby becomes a lens through which we can begin to view his analysis of the convergence between the new technological media and a revolutionary concept of historical action and understanding. Written in the form of theses--what Cadava calls "snapshots in prose"--the book memorializes Benjamin's own thetic method of writing. It enacts a mode of conceiving history that is neither linear nor successive, but rather discontinuous--constructed from what Benjamin calls "dialectical images." In this way, it not only suggests the essential rapport between the fragmentary form of Benjamin's writing and his effort to write a history of modernity but it also skillfully clarifies the relation between Benjamin and his contemporaries, the relation between fascism and aesthetic ideology. It gives us the most complete picture to date of Benjamin's reflections on history.

Branka Arsi is associate professor of American literature at the University at Albany, SUNY. Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English at Rice University. Stanley Cavell is the Walter M. Cabot Professor Emeritus of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University.

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Preface: Photagogos
History
Heliotropism
Origins
Mortification
Ghosts
Mimesis
Translations
Inscriptions
Lightning
Stars
Eternal Return
Reproducibility
Politics
Danger
Caesura
Traces
Nightdreams
Twilight
Awakening
Language
Matter
Reflections
Psyches
Shocks
Similarity
Petrification
Death
Epitaphs
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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