Although Walter Benjamin is recognized as a major figure in the Humanities and Social Sciences, scholarly engagement with his work has tended to miss his most significant, operational contributions. Partly, this owes to what people have mistaken for prodigious eclecticism, or to the fact that Benjamin preferred showing to telling. Closer consideration reveals, however, that there is an overarching methodological coherence to Benjamin’s oeuvre. This method can be learned, and its application enables students not only to interpret the world but potentially to change it as well.
For more than a decade, movement-based scholar AK Thompson has worked with Benjamin to weigh in on the key debates of our crisis-filled era. From engagements with pop culture’s latent promise to critiques of the cherished certainties that guide movement struggles, he has foregrounded the operational value of Benjamin’s insights. In Premonitions: Selected Essays on the Culture of Revolt (2018), Thompson reveals how we might do things with Benjamin today.
Facilitator: AK Thompson got kicked out of high school for publishing an underground newspaper called The Agitator and has been an activist and social theorist ever since. Currently a Professor of Social Movements and Social Change at Ithaca College, his publications include Sociology for Changing the World: Social Movements/Social Research (2006), Black Bloc, White Riot: Anti-Globalization and the Genealogy of Dissent (2010), Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle (2016), Spontaneous Combustion: The Eros Effect and Global Revolution (2017), and, most recently, Premonitions: Selected Essays on the Culture of Revolt (2018), Between 2005 and 2012, he served on the Editorial Committee of Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Action.
Date: Saturday, February 23, 10am-2pm
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The Culture of Revolt