Tom Vandeputte is director of the Critical Studies department of the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, where he teaches courses in continental philosophy and critical theory. He studied humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London and completed a PhD in philosophy at Goldsmiths College, where he remains affiliated with the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought. He has held teaching positions at the University of Amsterdam, the Free University Amsterdam, Birkbeck College and King’s College London, where he taught a course in collaboration with Tate Modern.

Tom’s work focuses on twentieth-century theories of history and language, particularly their relation to political thought. Apart from this, he has written extensively about the crisis in higher education and alternative models of study. Together with Tim Ivison he edited Contestations (Bedford Press, 2013); he is also co-editor of Politics of Study, a collection of conversations developed in collaboration with Sidsel Meineche Hansen (Open Editions, 2015). He is co-founder of The New Reader, a journal for theory at the intersection of art, philosophy, and politics.

Images of Arrested Time in Kierkegaard and Benjamin

ICI Project 2017-18

In this project I examine how notions of standstill, stasis, and interruption may help to rethink the constitution of historical time. Focusing on the images of arrested time that appear at decisive points in the work of Kierkegaard and Benjamin, I will elaborate an apparently simple thought: that history is, contrary to a persistent assumption, not to be conceived in terms of development or progress but takes place precisely in an interruption of the course of history.

To follow this thought means to challenge conceptions of history that rely on the simple opposition of movement and stagnation, stasis and kinesis, which find their exemplary expression in the representation of history as the progression of a human subject through time. If the failure of history to erupt is, today, best captured as the movement of a machine rotating on the spot, historical time must be rethought as a moment of genuine standstill – a now where history ceases to unfold as an inexorable succession and time itself is brought to a halt.