Author meets Critic: Kevin McLaughlin in conversation with colleagues from the research group

Kevin McLaughlin 2023

Kevin McLaughlin's new book, The Philology of Life: Walter Benjamin's Critical Program (Fordham University Press, 2023), traces the development of a theory of literature and a method of criticism in Benjamin's early interpretations of a nexus formed by the poetry of Hölderlin, the criticism of the German romantics, and Goethe's novel, Elective Affinities. McLaughlin's lecture will focus on one strand in Benjamin's approach to Goethe to show how this early "philology of life" informs his later reflections on the novel in the famous essay, "The Storyteller." In this way, McLaughlin will suggest how Benjamin's academic writing on German literature around 1800 shaped his turn to literary and cultural criticism composed for a broader public.


Kevin McLaughlin served as Dean of the Faculty at Brown University (Providence, USA) from 2011-2022. He is currently the George Hazard Crooker University Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and German Studies at Brown. He is the author of four books of criticism and is a co-translator of Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project.