International symposium, St. John's College, Oxford · 24-26 September 2012
Kafka, Religion, and ModernityInternational symposium, St. John's College, Oxford
24-26 September 2012
Until recently, the religious interpretations of Kafka's work, which began with his friend Max Brod and continued into the heyday of existentialism, were considered outdated and discredited. For some decades, religion has featured in Kafka interpretation only as an aspect of his relation to Judaism. This means ignoring important areas of his work, notably the Zürau aphorisms of 1917-18, and overlooking e.g. the fact that a central chapter of The Trial is set in a cathedral.
Until recently, the religious interpretations of Kafka's work, which began with his friend Max Brod and continued into the he Now, however, it has become possible and even necessary to speak, with Daniel Weidner, of a 'religious turn', or, with Jürgen Habermas, of a 'post-secular society'. Ernst Wolfgang Böckenförde has asked whether modern societies can themselves provide a foundation for the values on which they are founded, or whether, in Böckenförde's words, 'The liberal secular state is based on assumptions which it cannot itself guarantee'. Evidently modernity can no longer be equated with an inevitable and irreversible process of secularization, understood as the disappearance of religion. Instead, we want to consider 'secularization' as a transfer of meaning from one domain to another, in which art and literature take over tasks previously reserved for religion.
Until recently, the religious interpretations of Kafka's work, which began with his friend Max Brod and continued into the he Within this framework, we want to investigate Kafka's relation to religion in new ways. We want to explore how religious questions are addressed by literary means; to ask how far this leads to individual, heterodox, and creative constructions of religion; and to generate new research both on modern developments within central European Judaism and on Kafka's later texts. Hence we aim to pose broad questions, to test them against Kafka's oeuvre, and thus to shed further light on Kafka and his intellectual milieu. [Read More]
ConvenorsManfred Engel, Ritchie Robertson
Conference venueNew Seminar Room, St. John's College
Accommodation for speakersSt. John's College, St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP (www.sjc.ox.ac.uk)
Conference fee (for guests)£ 20 (reduced fee for students: £ 10)
WebsiteOxford Kafka Research Centre
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