What is the time, are the times of philology? Whether grasped narrowly in the sense of textual criticism or more widely as a ‘love of words’, philology, underpinning all critical practices attentive to the materiality of language, demands to be thought in relation to time and temporality.

In the first instance, thinking time philologically entails thinking through the time of editions and emendations. Caught between at least two different times – the time of composition, with its generative openness; the time of edition, which pushes toward decision in the establishment of a definitive text – editions must negotiate temporal distance on various levels. Hence, they must decide how to deal with language and interpretations that have become antiquated or anachronistic; with references and allusions that have changed meaning or ceased to function altogether; with texts that anticipate and exploit their editorial ‘afterlife’ for their own purposes (deliberate use of archaism or anachronism; other ways in which the time of writing can reappear within or leave its mark on the text itself, including on the level of literary narration and literary temporality more generally). Finally, the time of philology includes the historicity of the practice of edition itself, such as changing conceptions of the ‘oeuvre’ and of its ‘author’, of emendation and readability, of the role and status of textual variants and of the degree of ‘conclusiveness’ editions should strive for.

Foregrounding the ‘philia’ in philology, we might also ask to what extent philology carries the potential to help us evade logocentric conceptions of error and correction as well as the teleological models of time they carry with them. Philological reading can thus engender another temporality, capacious enough to envelop the temporal operations sketched above, yet presenting an inclusive, radically non-progressive  insistence: the time of staying with and returning to the text. Any attempt to think philological time must thus not only account for the dynamic time of the constitution (and de-constitution) of the text in its drafts and revisions, its afterlife and translations, but must also reckon with the time of reading itself. The symposium will address these and related issues in relation to literature and literary theory, philosophy, politics, and media studies.

In English

Elizabeth M. Bonapfel
Christiane Frey
Marcel Lepper
David Martyn
Barbara Nagel
Zachary Sng
Tom Vandeputte
et al

Organized by

An ICI Event organized by Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz and Zachary Sng


11:00 Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz, Introduction

Zachary Sng, This is (Not) a Joint: Heraclitus, Hölderlin, Heidegger
David Martyn, Grimm’s Anachronisms
Barbara Nagel, Versioning Violence: On Gender, Genetics, and Jealousy in Adalbert Stifter’s Mappe

Marcel Lepper, Time Zones and Clock Changes in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando
Elizabeth Bonapfel, Which Author, Which Text, Which Time, Which Reader? Examining Multiple Versions of James Joyce’s Dubliners

Christiane Frey, The Times of Omission: Heinrich von Kleist’s ‘Enigma’
Tom Vandeputte, Verwandlungsgeschichte: Benjamin’s Letter on Philology
Dan Reeve, Reading Again: Hermeneutics and Foreknowledge in Boethius

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.

KV Philological Time(s)

Image Credit © Claudia Peppel, collage, 2015, (detail)

Photos of the event by Arnd Wedemeyer