Walter Benjamin and the Media: The Spectacle of Modernity
July 2014, Polity
The book provides a systematic and close reading of Benjamin’s critical and provocative writings on the intersection between media - from print to electronic - and modern experience, with reference to the information industry, the urban spectacle, and the aesthetic politics. Bringing Benjamin’s thought into a critical constellation with contemporary media theorists such as Marshall McLuhan and Jean Baudrillard, the book helps students understand the implications of Benjamin’s work for media studies today and how they can apply his distinctive ideas to contemporary media culture.
Kang’s book leads to a fresh appreciation of Benjamin’s work and new insight into critical theoretical approaches to media. The book will be of particular interest to students and researchers not only in media and communication studies but also in cultural studies, film studies and social theory, who are seeking a readable overview of Benjamin’s rich yet complex writings.
1 Introducing Dr Benjamin 1
There and Then, Here and Now 1
Figuring Benjamin 5
Configuring Benjamin 15
2 The Crisis of Communication and the Information Industry 24
Storytelling and the Crisis of the Novel 26
The Newspaper and the Information Industry 38
The Intellectuals in the Age of Mass Media 50
3 Radio and Mediated Storytelling 65
Towards a Critical Sociology of the Audience 68
Radio Model 74
Some Motifs for Media Pedagogy 85
4 Art and Politics in the Age of their Technological Reproducibility 100
Photographic Reproducibility 102
The Media Culture of Distraction 117
Media and Democracy 129
5 The Media City: Reading The Arcades Project 150
Phantasmagorias of Modernity 153
Media Spectacle and Urban Space 168
Tactility of Media Critic 193
6 Conclusion: The Actuality of Benjamin’s Media Critique 202
Further Reading 245
Jaeho Kang is Lecturer in Critical Media and Cultural Studies at the Centre for Media and Film Studies, SOAS, University of London
- An accessible introduction to Walter Benjamin’s theory of the media
- Provides a close reading of Benjamin’s work on the intersection between media and modern experience
- Examines the relevance and implications of Benjamin’s work for media studies today
- Offers new insight into critical theoretical approaches to media
"In Walter Benjamin and the Media Jaeho Kang strikes a near
perfect balance between biographical narrative and theoretical
analysis. In doing so, Benjamin s media critique is fully
contextualised removing any notion of obsolescence which may arise
from a contemporary reading."
LSE Review of Books
For too long Walter Benjamin's lapidary texts have merely sparkled in the distance, unintegrated into everyday analyses of media and communications research. Jaeho Kang's fluent and energetic new reading of Benjamin's writings on radio, storytelling, media industries, and urban culture reinvigorates our connection with this great 20th century thinker of cultural change. Kang's beautifully organised book provides us with a welcome toolkit for grasping today's high-speed reconfiguration of our once familiar media landscapes.
Nick Couldry, London School of Economics
We know of Walter Benjamin in several guises: failed academic, brilliant journalist, messianic writer. But do we really know about Benjamin the media theorist, beyond Work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction ?
Jaeho Kang takes us across disciplines along the intensely
original intellectual journey that led Benjamin to the media.
Brilliant and grave, erudite and luminous, Kang s book
invites us to share Benjamin s incandescent curiosity.
Daniel Dayan, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
"Kang's exploration of the relationship between Banjamin's media theorizing of McLuhan and Baudrillard renders Walter Benjamin and the Media a substantial achievement that is well worth a read."