“A Tremendous Shattering of Tradition”: Reconsidering Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, Association of Art Historians Annual Conference: ‘Contents. Discontents. Malcontents’

Date: April 6 – 8, 2006
Venue: Leeds, UK

This session will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the publication of Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay ‘Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen reproduzierbarkeit’, translated into English in 1968 as ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’.

In 1936 the essay offered a challenge not only to Fascist appropriations of art, but also to conventional Marxist aesthetics as well as to phenomenological theorisations of art – witness its problematic reception by Adorno and others, its expressed discontent with what it sees as depoliticised modes of aesthetic engagement, and its analysis of ‘a world without aura’ (Rodolphe Gasché). These challenges are repeated in different ways in the essay’s influence on the turbulent intellectual scene of the late 1960s. It has contributed significantly to the development of both Marxist and postmodernist theorisations of culture, as well as to the ongoing art-historical reassessment of the art work and its roles in contemporary media-dominated societies.
The essay’s perennial appeal to discontented Marxist and other modes of reading modern and postmodern art may constitute one line of enquiry. Papers are also sought that will explore the essay’s continuing significance for contemporary theories, practices and histories of art.

For more detailed description and details for Submission of Proposals, contact:

Session chairs / organisers: Patricia Allmer, Loughborough University School of Art and Design, Epinal Way, Loughborough LE11 3TU, sears@allmer.fsnet.co.uk

John Sears, Manchester Metropolitan University (Cheshire), Interdisciplinary Studies, Hassall Road, Alsager ST7 2HL, J.Sears@mmu.ac.uk

See for submissions details, registration, and all further information: http://www.aah.org.uk
[Please note: this is an archival entry; conference website may be discontinued.]