Benjamin's -abilities

Harvard University Press
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In this book, Weber, a leading theorist on literature and media, reveals a new and productive aspect of Benjamin's thought by focusing the critical suffix "-ability" that Benjamin so tellingly deploys in his work. The result is an illuminating perspective on Benjamin's thought by way of his language - and one of the most penetrating and comprehensive accounts of Benjamin's work ever written.
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About the author

Samuel Weber is Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harvard University Press
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Published on
Jun 30, 2009
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Pages
373
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ISBN
9780674033955
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / European / General
Philosophy / Aesthetics
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Ever since Aristotle's Poetics, both the theory and the practice of theater have been governed by the assumption that it is a form of representation dominated by what Aristotle calls the "mythos," or the "plot." This conception of theater has subordinated characteristics related to the theatrical medium, such as the process and place of staging, to the demands of a unified narrative.

This readable, thought-provoking, and multidisciplinary study explores theatrical writings that question this aesthetical-generic conception and seek instead to work with the medium of theatricality itself. Beginning with Plato, Samuel Weber tracks the uneasy relationships among theater, ethics, and philosophy through Aristotle, the major Greek tragedians, Shakespeare, Kierkegaard, Kafka, Freud, Benjamin, Artaud, and many others who develop alternatives to dominant narrative-aesthetic assumptions about the theatrical medium.

His readings also interrogate the relation of theatricality to the introduction of
electronic media. The result is to show that, far from breaking with the characteristics of live staged performance, the new media intensify ambivalences about place and identity already at work in theater since the Greeks.

Praise for Samuel Weber: "What kind of questioning is primarily after something other than an answer that can be measured . . . in cognitive terms? Those interested in the links between modern philosophy nd media culture will be impressed by the unusual intellectual clarity and depth with which Weber formulates the . . . questions that constiture the true challenge to cultural studies today. . . . one of our most important cultural critics and thinkers"--MLN

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