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Warwick Workshop for Interdisciplinary German Studies: Nick Lawrence (Warwick), '"Everything Changes": Brecht, Benjamin, Adorno'

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Location: FAB 3.30

This paper looks at the question of historical last chances through the prism of a 1944 poem by Bertolt Brecht, “Alles wandelt sich [Everything changes],” refracted through related work by two contemporaries, Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, and projected into an afterlife conditioned by altered senses of crisis and catastrophe. Reviewing the theory of historical contingency and opportunity developed by Benjamin, and the method of lyric reading proposed by Adorno, the paper aims to revise the latter’s understanding of a social poetics in which the poem serves as a ‘sundial telling the time of history.’ Instead, it outlines what might be called lyric theory for a warming world, in which, paraphrasing Andreas Malm, we can never read in the heat of the moment, only in the heat of an ongoing past.

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