Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


Art and politics in Walter Benjamin
Arte e politica in Walter Benjamin

A.Y. Credits
2021/2022 5
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Graziella Travaglini after class

Assigned to the Degree Course

Conservation and Restauration of Cultural Heritage (LMR/02)
Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

The course will investigate the link between art and politics in Benjamin's thought. In particular, how this relationship was defined in the years in which the philosopher wrote the essay The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility, published in 1936. This essay, whose conceptual apparatus influenced all contemporary reflection on art, will be placed at the centre of an interpretation that will link it, on the one hand, to the author's reflection on Charles Baudelaire in those years and, on the other, to some of his Theses on the philosophy of history.


The course will cover the following topics:

1. The life and works of W. Benjamin;

2. The conception of time and history in the years following the materialistic turn;

3. Reading and commentary on the essay The work of art in the age of its technical reproducibility;

4. Beyond the "aura"; the emancipatory values of the new art forms: cinema and photography;

5. Benjamin’s relationship with the avant-gardes of his time. In particular, we will examine some Dadaist works, some photographs by Eugène Atget, Sergej Michajlovič Ėjzenštejn’s theory of montage and Dziga Vertov’s materialistic conception of the cinematographic image;

6. “Politicisation of art” versus “Aesthetisation of politics”.


Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

At the end of the course the student is expected:

- to have a general knowledge of the founding concepts of Modern Aesthetics;

- to know the essays by Benjamin examined and critically interpret the text;

- to know how to discuss and adequately understand aesthetic-philosophical problems;

- to know and understand the theoretical problems related to Benjamin's conception of art;

- to interpret, read, comment on, recognise and explain philosophical texts;

- to interpret, read, comment on, recognie and explain philosophical texts; to contextualise philosophical arguments and theories (particularly in the field of aesthetics);

- to argue philosophical theses in an appropriate and convincing way; to recognise and evaluate different philosophical traditions;

- to acquire autonomy of judgement in relation to philosophical theses;

- to acquire communication skills in the presentation of philosophical theses and arguments.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Didactics, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


taught lesson


to attend at the last 70% of the lessons

Course books

W. Benjamin, 2000, L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica. Arte e società di massa, trad. it. Di E. Flippini, Einaudi, Torino.

W. Benjamin, Su alcuni motivi in Baudelaire, in Id., Angelus Novus, a cura di R. Solmi, Einaudi, Torino 2014.

W. Benjamin, Tesi di filosofia della storia, in Id., Angelus Novus, a cura di R. Solmi, Einaudi, Torino 2014.


The examination consists of an oral exam. Students are required to read and comment on single passages of the texts. Students are expected to be able to grasp the main theoretical features of the examined passages and to be able to contextualize them within the text.

Particular attention is given to oral exposure’s capacity through the proper terminology.

Students are expected to be able to develop a critical approach to the theories they studied and to their ability to make comparisons between the authors they studied.

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


To contact the teacher

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