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Agency and Tradition
In readings of Walter Benjamin's work, religion often marks a boundary between scholarly camps, but it rarely receives close and sustained scrutiny. Benjamin's most influential writings pertain to modern art and culture, but he frequently used religious language while rejecting both secularism and religious revival. Benjamin was, in today's terms, postsecular. Postsecular Benjamin explicates Benjamin's engagements with religious traditions as resources for contemporary debates on secularism, conflict, and identity. Brian Britt argues that what animates this work on tradition is the question of human agency, which he pursues through lively and sustained experimentation with ways of thinking, reading, and writing.
"Britt’s book makes a threefold contribution: to Benjamin studies in the traditional sense, to contemporary discussions of how to think beyond the false binary of religion and secularism, and to readers with a particular interest in the literary qualities of Benjamin’s texts.” —John McCole, author of Walter Benjamin and the Antiomies of Tradition
"With the publication of Postsecular Benjamin, Brian Britt adds to his already lustrous reputation as a leading commentator on Walter Benjamin’s relationship to twentieth-century theology. Postsecular Benjamin puts Benjamin’s work in dialogue with our contemporary world in consistently inventive and suggestive ways, addressing such central issues as the conflict between science and culture, secularization, the uses of tradition, and the potentials inherent in the notion of a collective agency. Benjamin emerges here not just as a leading theorist of modernity, but as a figure whose insights, blind spots, and excesses can shed light from the past onto our present." —Michael Jennings, Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages, Princeton University
"With this book, Britt makes an important contribution to the ever-expanding critical literature on European philosopher Walter Benjamin. Britt offers the first sustained reading of Benjamin's intellectual engagement with religion as it appears in his extensive writings on art, modernity, and culture. This book is invaluable for scholars of 20th-century European thought, literature, and religion." —CHOICE