The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $9.94
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 50%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (17) from $9.94   
  • New (13) from $14.49   
  • Used (4) from $9.94   

Overview

Benjamin’s famous “Work of Art” essay sets out his boldest thoughts—on media and on culture in general—in their most realized form, while retaining an edge that gets under the skin of everyone who reads it. In this essay the visual arts of the machine age morph into literature and theory and then back again to images, gestures, and thought.

This essay, however, is only the beginning of a vast collection of writings that the editors have assembled to demonstrate what was revolutionary about Benjamin’s explorations on media. Long before Marshall McLuhan, Benjamin saw that the way a bullet rips into its victim is exactly the way a movie or pop song lodges in the soul.

This book contains the second, and most daring, of the four versions of the “Work of Art” essay—the one that addresses the utopian developments of the modern media. The collection tracks Benjamin’s observations on the media as they are revealed in essays on the production and reception of art; on film, radio, and photography; and on the modern transformations of literature and painting. The volume contains some of Benjamin’s best-known work alongside fascinating, little-known essays—some appearing for the first time in English. In the context of his passionate engagement with questions of aesthetics, the scope of Benjamin’s media theory can be fully appreciated.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Seven Oaks

A juicy selection of [Benjamin's] many short pieces on pop culture.
— George Fetherling

Times Literary Supplement

Until recently, Walter Benjamin‘s seminal essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, was available to English-speaking readers only in the version that appeared in the 1968 collection Illuminations. Harvard’s new volume of the German cultural critic’s writings on media offers as its title-piece an earlier, edgier incarnation—the second of three composed between 1935 and 1939—in a superior translation...Throughout The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, Benjamin‘s startling, often oblique language reveals his subjects from unexpected angles...This volume amply demonstrates the keenness and ingenuity of Benjamin‘s intuitions at the dawn of modern media culture.
— Ross Benjamin

Umbrella
The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility and other Writings on Media reflects Benjamin's most salient thoughts on media and on culture in general in their most realized form, still maintaining an edge under the skin of everyone who reads it. The visual arts morph into literature and theory and then back to images, gestures and thought, Here the editors have situated this essay as the cornerstone of a vast collection of writings that demonstrates what was revolutionary about Benjamin's explorations on media. He was so prescient, and mind you, Virginia, he was alive only until 1940. We are now talking about 2008 and his work is not just timely, but powerful, important, clairvoyant, and necessary. This is the second and most daring version of the 'Work of Art' essay which tracks Benjamin's observations on the production and reception of art; on film, radio, and photography; on the telephone, on children's books, on Charlie Chaplin and so much more. He was not a critic for the 20th century, he was a theoretician for all time. This volume will probably become a text for some classes, but it is an introduction, a force that must be dealt with by anyone interested in culture, in the media, in the arts, to debates on the digital age. He could explore implications of these themes and be so prescient about what we are experiencing today. Oh, if he were alive today, he would tell us about the future, I am sure. This is a must for anyone who wants to be introduced to Benjamin, or one who wants more and more of what he has to say--and this one is thankfully in English.
The Nation

The editors and publisher of this volume deserve credit for organizing its contents thematically rather than chronologically. Such a format encourages readers to approach Benjamin's work discursively, thereby fostering a superior sense of the recurrent ideas, themes, motifs and concepts that Benjamin employed time and again.
— Noah Isenberg

Frank Kermode
In wanting to be a great literary critic [Benjamin] discovered that he could only be the last great literary critic. ... He explained certain aspects of the modern with an authority that seventy years of unpredictable change have not vitiated.
George Steiner
Walter Benjamin's work, fragmentary and partly esoteric as it is, fully withstands a comparative measure, and surpasses any of its rivals in philosophic consequences. There has been no more original, no more serious critic and reader in our time.
Miriam Hansen
In recent decades, Benjamin's essay on the work of art may have been quoted more often than any other single source in an astonishing range of areas -- from new-left media theory to cultural studies, from film and art history to visual culture, from the postmodern art scene to debates on the future of art, especially film, in the digital age. The antinomies and ambivalences in Benjamin's thinking, his efforts to explore the most extreme implications of opposing stances, are still invaluable for illuminating the contradictions in today's media environment. Anyone interested in the fate of art, perception, and culture in the industrialized world must welcome this collection of Benjamin's writings on media.
Susan Stewart
This one-volume gathering of Benjamin's dialectical writing on media of all kinds, ranging from children's literature to cinema, has at its heart the second, most expansive version of his path-breaking essay 'The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility.' Readers familiar only with partial versions of this piece, where Benjamin began to record the melancholy loss of aesthetic presence at the turn of the twentieth century, will find their understanding transformed-- for this second version, like all the essays and supplemental texts included here, explores a set of latent, utopian possibilities inherent in mechanical means of art-making. Benjamin, the visionary magus of particulars, reveals profoundly, and repeatedly, both the grounds and the consequences of our ever-changing image of the made world.
Seven Oaks - George Fetherling
A juicy selection of [Benjamin's] many short pieces on pop culture.
Times Literary Supplement - Ross Benjamin
Until recently, Walter Benjamin‘s seminal essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, was available to English-speaking readers only in the version that appeared in the 1968 collection Illuminations. Harvard’s new volume of the German cultural critic’s writings on media offers as its title-piece an earlier, edgier incarnation--the second of three composed between 1935 and 1939--in a superior translation...Throughout The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, Benjamin‘s startling, often oblique language reveals his subjects from unexpected angles...This volume amply demonstrates the keenness and ingenuity of Benjamin‘s intuitions at the dawn of modern media culture.
Technology Review - Emily Gould
Freshly translated (it used to be called "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," which, although more lumberingly Teutonic, has the virtue of evoking an image of robot sex) and newly packaged with an assortment of his other "writings on media" in a hipster-friendly paperback, Benjamin's best-known work is...well, as they say on Facebook, it's complicated. Man, is it ever complicated. The essay begins by describing the ways film and photography have changed human perception. Benjamin argues that because such exact simulacra of reality can be mass-distributed and mass-consumed, we have a new, more distant relationship to authentic reality--and he concludes that these changes in perception clear a path for fascism. Not exactly cheerleadery, then. And while it's easy to be distracted by Benjamin's dusty examples--Chaplin's films and Picasso's paintings--and therefore lulled into thinking he's describing a different world...well, don't be. Substitute blogs and social-networking platforms and Twitter and YouTube and Wikipedia for film and photography, and the nearly century-old essay becomes a relevant, piercing alarm.
The Nation - Noah Isenberg
The editors and publisher of this volume deserve credit for organizing its contents thematically rather than chronologically. Such a format encourages readers to approach Benjamin's work discursively, thereby fostering a superior sense of the recurrent ideas, themes, motifs and concepts that Benjamin employed time and again.
The Nation
The editors and publisher of this volume deserve credit for organizing its contents thematically rather than chronologically. Such a format encourages readers to approach Benjamin's work discursively, thereby fostering a superior sense of the recurrent ideas, themes, motifs and concepts that Benjamin employed time and again.
— Noah Isenberg
Times Literary Supplement
Until recently, Walter Benjamin‘s seminal essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, was available to English-speaking readers only in the version that appeared in the 1968 collection Illuminations. Harvard’s new volume of the German cultural critic’s writings on media offers as its title-piece an earlier, edgier incarnation--the second of three composed between 1935 and 1939--in a superior translation...Throughout The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, Benjamin‘s startling, often oblique language reveals his subjects from unexpected angles...This volume amply demonstrates the keenness and ingenuity of Benjamin‘s intuitions at the dawn of modern media culture.
— Ross Benjamin
Seven Oaks
A juicy selection of [Benjamin's] many short pieces on pop culture.
— George Fetherling
Library Journal

This essay collection by German literary critic and philosopher Benjamin (1892-1940) covers his theories on the relationships between and among culture, history, and art media. The editors have chosen his essays that focus on technologies and art media of the early 20th century, e.g., radio, film, and photography. The first section covers Benjamin's theories on the political possibilities of art and the effects of art on human thought. The second offers brief introductions to Benjamin's application of his theories to specific art media and technologies. Benjamin explains that art media, like film and photography, enables the creation of reproducible works, a fact that has both politicized art and revolutionized our perception of it. Art works, he writes, have become a "collective creation" rather than something created by an individual. While Benjamin's writing style can make his line of reasoning difficult to follow, the editors have done a wonderful job of introducing each section with a historical overview of the essays and a thorough explanation of his theories. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.
—Scott Duimstra

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674024458
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 489,845
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was the author of many works of literary and cultural analysis.

Michael W. Jennings is Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages at Princeton University.

?Brigid Doherty is Associate Professor of German and of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University.

Thomas Y. Levin is Associate Professor of German at , Princeton University.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

  • A Note on the Texts
  • Editors’ Introduction


  1. I. The Production, Reproduction, and Reception of the Work of Art
  2. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility: Second Version
  3. Theory of Distraction
  4. To the Planetarium
  5. Garlanded Entrance
  6. The Rigorous Study of Art
  7. Imperial Panorama
  8. The Telephone
  9. The Author as Producer
  10. Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century
  11. Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
  12. Review of Sternberger’s Panorama

  13. II. Script, Image, Script-Image
  14. Attested Auditor of Books
  15. This Space for Rent
  16. The Antinomies of Allegorical Exegesis
  17. The Ruin
  18. Dismemberment of Language
  19. Graphology Old and New

  20. III. Painting and Graphics
  21. Painting and the Graphic Arts
  22. On Painting, or Sign and Mark
  23. A Glimpse into the World of Children’s Books
  24. Dream Kitsch
  25. Moonlit Nights on the Rue La Boétie
  26. Chambermaids’ Romances of the Past Century
  27. Antoine Wiertz: Thoughts and Visions of a Severed Head
  28. Some Remarks on Folk Art
  29. Chinese Paintings at the Bibliothèque Nationale

  30. IV. Photography
  31. News about Flowers
  32. Little History of Photography
  33. Letter from Paris (2): Painting and Photography
  34. Review of Freund’s Photographie en France au dix-neuvième siècle

  35. V. Film
  36. On the Present Situation of Russian Film
  37. Reply to Oscar A. H. Schmitz
  38. Chaplin
  39. Chaplin in Retrospect
  40. Mickey Mouse
  41. The Formula in Which the Dialectical Structure of Film Finds Expression

  42. VI. The Publishing Industry and Radio
  43. Journalism
  44. A Critique of the Publishing Industry
  45. The Newspaper
  46. Karl Kraus
  47. Reflections on Radio
  48. Theater and Radio
  49. Conversation with Ernst Schoen
  50. Two Types of Popularity: Fundamental Reflections on a Radio Play
  51. On the Minute

  • Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)