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German Studies Lecture Series: Florian Klinger



Florian Klinger (University of Chicago)


Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm


Zoom & Pigott Hall (Bldg. 260, Rm 216)

German Studies Lecture Series: Florian Klinger

Florian Klinger (University of Chicago) will present his talk, "Transformation Without Power. Kafka's Wish".

How can one conceive of agency when one has no resources on which to draw? Together, the Western philosophical tradition and the counter-traditions of critical race, gender, and class theory, have produced not only conceptions of agency, the power to act, but also, and almost in equal measure, conceptions of non-agency – that is, conceptions of what to do, what to think, how to conceive of ourselves in the absence of power. The talk takes up the question through a discussion of Franz Kafka’s Wish to Become an Indian. It shows how the piece, in and through its performance as an aesthetic action, rids itself of the power to perform, and thus presents the conception of an agency without resources. The becoming that fulfills the wish is a transformation without power.

Florian Klinger is Associate Professor in Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago. His book Urteilen, which proposes a conception of human judgment for our present, was published by diaphanes Verlag, Zürich/Berlin in 2011. A second book, Theorie der Form. Gerhard Richter und die Kunst des pragmatischen Zeitalters, a pragmatist account of aesthetic form, came out with Carl Hanser Verlag, München in 2013. A revised English translation is forthcoming with University of Chicago Press. For the forthcoming critical edition of the works of Hannah Arendt (general eds. Hahn/ Nordmann/ Wild), Florian is co-editing the volume Kant Lectures (with Susanne Lüdemann). At this point, Florian is working on a book that undertakes to replace nature-based and culture-based accounts of life by arguing that life belongs to the order of act.

In-person is available to current Stanford members only. Remote attendance is available via Zoom.