The lecture contrasts Kracauer’s scattered urban miniatures, collected in the 1960s under the title Straßen in Berlin und anderswo, with those of Benjamin’s Einbahnstraße, both distinct contributions to a mode of modernist feuilleton writing in the Baudelairean tradition. The modernist miniature emerged as an experimental literary space that could test new metropolitan perceptions in the context of the rise of new technological image media and of the breakdown of boundaries between the visual and verbal arts. Benjamin’s miniatures are related to the baroque medium of the emblem, which combined language and image, while Kracauer’s texts are discussed in relation to the snapshot photograph. Significantly, neither writer supplements his texts with images and both first published many of these short prose pieces in the feuilletons of urban papers before collecting them into book format.
Andreas Huyssen is the Villard Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is founding director of Columbia’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (1998-2003) and one of the founding editors of New German Critique (since 1974), the leading journal of German studies in the U.S.. His books include After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (1986), Postmoderne – Zeichen eines kulturellen Wandels, co-ed. with Klaus Scherpe (1986), Modernity and the Text: Revisions of German Modernism, co-ed. with David Bathrick (1989), Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (1995), and Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (2003). Editor, most recently, of Other Cities, Other Worlds: Urban Imaginaries in a Globalizing Age (2008). His work has been translated into many languages world-wide.
An event of the ICI Berlin in cooperation with the Mosse Lectures
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