Dienstag, 12–14 Uhr

The seminar will take as its point of departure the untranslatable term Entsetzung, which can mean both horror (Entsetzen) and the destitution or suspension of sovereign power. The political thought of Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben will be brought into conjunction through an interrogation of the role of this term in their respective philosophies. The notion of Entsetzung marks Walter Benjamin’s attempt to think revolution beyond a mere change of regime, which he views as necessarily reproducing domination and oppression. Reading Agamben’s work through his use of Entsetzung can shed light on the relevance and possible limits of the concept for a critical analysis of the present. By exploring this seemingly peripheral notion, we will try to understand the full implications of Agamben and Benjamin’s critique of sovereignty.

This course will be held in English and we are aware of the challenges of studying these texts in translation. Hence we strongly recommend that participants familiarise themselves with both the German original and the English translations, in particular in the case of Benjamin's writings.

Semester: WiSe 2020/21