Walter Benjamin was not only a leading modernist thinker but also a versatile and prolific journalist. This podcast discusses his journalism as a creative laboratory for his cultural theory and as part of a wider network of people and ideas.
The German-Jewish thinker Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century. But Benjamin was also a prolific journalist, someone who used his articles and radio work to try out new ideas, write in new formats and reach new audiences. Although Benjamin was forced into a journalistic career by circumstances he couldn’t control, he quickly embraced this challenge and used his journalism as a creative laboratory. This side of Benjamin is less well-known and has been largely neglected. In this podcast, Benjamin experts Carolin Duttlinger and Daniel Weidner discuss their new research project on Benjamin’s journalism and the challenges and opportunities presented by this rich body of work. As they argue, Benjamin the journalist must not be seen as an author working in splendid isolation but as someone who is part of a tight-knit but diverse network of people, media, and institutions. As they highlight, the environment in which Benjamin worked a century ago was very different from today’s digital media landscape, and yet many of the challenges he faced in his journalism remain immensely relevant today.
Walter Benjamin's Diagram of Personal connections as referenced in the podcast is reproduced in Blind Spots: Critical Theory and the History of Art in Twentieth-century Germany by Frederic J. Schwartz, p. 43, available here [link to https://books.google.de/books?id=Bnj8_EJiokoC&lpg=PA42&dq=Frederic%20Schwartz%20Blind%20spots%20family%20tree&pg=PA43#v=onepage&q&f=false]