REL 305

Marxism and the Messianic

The seminar focuses on the thought of Walter Benjamin, including a selection of texts commonly referred to as Benjamin's "messianic" or "theological" writings. Benjamin's life, work, and influence represent a remarkable nexus of aesthetic theory, cultural critique, Western Marxism, and Jewish mysticism. The course is especially aimed at laying bare the messianic structure of his thought as most clearly demonstrated in his early essays "Critique of Violence" and "The Task of the Translator," both published during his lifetime in 1921 and 1923. Themes include: a-theology, messianic time, utopia, apocalypse, redemption, political-theology, dialectical image, profane life, "bare life," nihilism, violence, transcendence, and the destructive character.