Benjamin, Kafka, and Theology

This two-session conference explores theology in Benjamin and Kafka. The first session, moderated by Karen Feldman, includes paper presentations by Gilad Sharvit and Vivian Liska, with a response by Niklaus Largier. The second session is a conversation between Robert Alter and Chana Kronfeld.


2:30-4:30 pm: Session 1

Moderator: Karen Feldman

Gilad Sharvit, “Exile and Tradition: Benjamin and Scholem on Kafka ”

Vivian Liska, “Kafka, Narrative, and the Law”

Response: Niklaus Largier

4.30-5 pm: Coffee break

5-6 pm: Session 2

Conversation: Robert Alter with Chana Kronfeld

6-7 pm: Reception

Vivian Liska is Senior Professor of German literature and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She is also, since 2013, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Her research focuses on modernist literature, German-Jewish literature and culture, and literary theory. She is the editor of: the De Gruyter book series “Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts;” the Yearbook of the Association of European-Jewish Literature; the comparative literature journal arcadia (with John Neubauer) and; numerous books, among them the two volume ICLA publication Modernism and What does the Veil Know? She is the author of several monographs, among them Die Nacht der Hymnen (on Paul Celan), ‘Die Moderne – ein Weib’ (on Turn of the Century German women novelists),  Das schelmische Erhabene (on Else Lasker-Schüler), Giorgio Agamben’s leerer Messianismus and When Kafka Says We. Her most recent book is Fremde GemeinschaftDeutsch-jüdische Literatur der Moderne . She is currently working on a book entitled The Jewish Tradition in Modern Thought: A Tenuous Legacy, to be published with Indiana University Press in 2017, as well as  a study of philosophical reception of Kafka’s work.

Gilad Sharvit is a Townsend Fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley (2016-7). He completed his PhD in the Philosophy department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2014, and later accepted a position as a Diller Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at UC Berkeley (2014-16). His teaching and research focus on the intersection of theories of history, politics, and religion in modern German-Jewish thought and literature. Sharvit’s current book project, provisionally titled “The Negation of Time: Messianism and Repetition in Modern German Jewish Thought,” aims to uncover the fundamental importance of repetition, cyclicality, and return for theories of history and messianism in the works of Franz Rosenzweig, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Franz Kafka. Sharvit is co-editor and contributing author of the volume Violent Origins: Freud, Moses, Religion that is forthcoming with Fordham University Press. He is also currently working on an edited volume on heresy and modern Jewish thought and culture for the De Gruyter series “Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts.” His publications have appeared in the Journal of Modern Jewish StudiesIdealistic Studies, and the Journal of Austrian Studies.