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Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Here Eduardo Cadava demonstrates that Walter Benjamin articulates his conception of history through the language of photography. Focusing on Benjamin's discussions of the flashes and images of history, he argues that the questions raised by this link between photography and history touch on issues that belong to the entire trajectory of his writings: the historical and political consequences of technology, the relation between reproduction and mimesis, images and history, remembering and forgetting, allegory and mourning, and visual and linguistic representation. The book establishes the photographic constellation of motifs and themes around which Benjamin organizes his texts and thereby becomes a lens through which we can begin to view his analysis of the convergence between the new technological media and a revolutionary concept of historical action and understanding.

Written in the form of theses--what Cadava calls "snapshots in prose"--the book memorializes Benjamin's own thetic method of writing. It enacts a mode of conceiving history that is neither linear nor successive, but rather discontinuous--constructed from what Benjamin calls "dialectical images." In this way, it not only suggests the essential rapport between the fragmentary form of Benjamin's writing and his effort to write a history of modernity but it also skillfully clarifies the relation between Benjamin and his contemporaries, the relation between fascism and aesthetic ideology. It gives us the most complete picture to date of Benjamin's reflections on history.

Synopsis:

"Eduardo Cadava is one of the most exciting younger critics working today in literary and cultural studies.... If the future of literary studies depends in no small measure on the capacity of traditional disciplines to adapt and transform themselves, then the significance of Cadava's work can hardly be overestimated."--Sam Weber

"In this careful and caring reading, Eduardo Cadava works with the greatest subtlety through the metaphors of Benjamin's historical imagination, Light, vision, time, trauma--these essential and intangible qualities of life emerge in this luminous essay as a meditation on the writing of history."--Homi Bhabha, author of Nation and Narration

Synopsis:

Here Eduardo Cadava demonstrates that Walter Benjamin articulates his conception of history through the language of photography. Focusing on Benjamin's discussions of the flashes and images of history, he argues that the questions raised by this link between photography and history touch on issues that belong to the entire trajectory of his writings: the historical and political consequences of technology, the relation between reproduction and mimesis, images and history, remembering and forgetting, allegory and mourning, and visual and linguistic representation. The book establishes the photographic constellation of motifs and themes around which Benjamin organizes his texts and thereby becomes a lens through which we can begin to view his analysis of the convergence between the new technological media and a revolutionary concept of historical action and understanding.

Written in the form of theses--what Cadava calls "snapshots in prose"--the book memorializes Benjamin's own thetic method of writing. It enacts a mode of conceiving history that is neither linear nor successive, but rather discontinuous--constructed from what Benjamin calls "dialectical images." In this way, it not only suggests the essential rapport between the fragmentary form of Benjamin's writing and his effort to write a history of modernity but it also skillfully clarifies the relation between Benjamin and his contemporaries, the relation between fascism and aesthetic ideology. It gives us the most complete picture to date of Benjamin's reflections on history.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Preface: Photagogos
History3
Heliotropism5
Origins5
Mortification7
Ghosts11
Mimesis13
Translations15
Inscriptions18
Lightning21
Stars26
Eternal Return31
Reproducibility42
Politics44
Danger47
Caesura59
Traces64
Nightdreams66
Twilight71
Awakening81
Language84
Matter87
Reflections92
Psyches97
Shocks102
Similarity106
Petrification115
Death128
Epitaphs128
Notes133
Bibliography157
Index169

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691002682
Author:
Cadava, Eduardo
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Photography
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
History
Subject:
Criticism
Subject:
Historiography
Subject:
Art and architecture
Subject:
Comparative Literature
Subject:
Film Studies
Subject:
Photography-Theory and Criticism
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
August 1998
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
30 halftones
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 11 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Photography » Anthologies and History
Arts and Entertainment » Photography » Theory and Criticism
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
History and Social Science » World History » Historiography

Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History New Trade Paper
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Product details 208 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691002682 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Eduardo Cadava is one of the most exciting younger critics working today in literary and cultural studies.... If the future of literary studies depends in no small measure on the capacity of traditional disciplines to adapt and transform themselves, then the significance of Cadava's work can hardly be overestimated."--Sam Weber

"In this careful and caring reading, Eduardo Cadava works with the greatest subtlety through the metaphors of Benjamin's historical imagination, Light, vision, time, trauma--these essential and intangible qualities of life emerge in this luminous essay as a meditation on the writing of history."--Homi Bhabha, author of Nation and Narration

"Synopsis" by , Here Eduardo Cadava demonstrates that Walter Benjamin articulates his conception of history through the language of photography. Focusing on Benjamin's discussions of the flashes and images of history, he argues that the questions raised by this link between photography and history touch on issues that belong to the entire trajectory of his writings: the historical and political consequences of technology, the relation between reproduction and mimesis, images and history, remembering and forgetting, allegory and mourning, and visual and linguistic representation. The book establishes the photographic constellation of motifs and themes around which Benjamin organizes his texts and thereby becomes a lens through which we can begin to view his analysis of the convergence between the new technological media and a revolutionary concept of historical action and understanding.

Written in the form of theses--what Cadava calls "snapshots in prose"--the book memorializes Benjamin's own thetic method of writing. It enacts a mode of conceiving history that is neither linear nor successive, but rather discontinuous--constructed from what Benjamin calls "dialectical images." In this way, it not only suggests the essential rapport between the fragmentary form of Benjamin's writing and his effort to write a history of modernity but it also skillfully clarifies the relation between Benjamin and his contemporaries, the relation between fascism and aesthetic ideology. It gives us the most complete picture to date of Benjamin's reflections on history.

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