The Remembrance of Things Past
On Aby M. Warburg and Walter Benjamin
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The art historian Aby M. Warburg and the philosopher Walter Benjamin are widely respected as two of the most significant cultural theorists of the twentieth century. Their common interests in historiography, the function of collective memory, and the relation of modern society to earlier stages of human social existence, were important examples of the attempt to articulate, analyse and represent the experience of modernity. Drawing on a variety of discourses from aesthetics, art history, anthropology and psychology, they presented an account of modernity and human development that represented an important counter to the optimistic belief in progress prevalent amongst their contemporaries. Rarely, however, have the connections between these two thinkers been explored in depth. This volume consists of an exploration of the intellectual relation between them, considering their varying responses to the question of the meaning of modernity, and above all their common legacy for the present.