Bibliography of Benjamin’s Writings on Education

This is a preliminary bibliography of Walter Benjamin’s writings on the theory of education, which I’m sharing here in the hope others will be able to comment on or supplement this list. The texts published between 1911 and 1917 are primarily concerned with school and university reform based on Benjamin’s idea of Youth, with those from around 1914 onwards reflecting his shift away from the principles of the Youth Movement. I’ve included Benjamin’s critique of Scholem’s notion of ‘teaching by example’ (itself related to Scholem’s critique of the Blau-Weiss Zionist youth group), in his 1917 reply to Scholem, since this seems to me to contain some of his clearest expositions of his educational theory. The texts from the 1920s reflect his attempt to think his concept of history (specifically, the relationship between humanity and technology, which resurfaces in the earlier versions of ‘The Work of Art’ essay in the mid-1930s) through the lens of his educational theory. The publication of One-Way Street in 1928 (although written in the mid-1920s) coincides with his renewed interest in educational theory, influenced by the ideas and practices of Asja Lacis and of Bertolt Brecht, which feed into his writings on and for radio and the concept of ‘teaching value’ that emerges in his essays on The Author as Producer and the earlier versions of The Work of Art essay but disappears from the later version. Some of his last comments on Brecht return to the question of Youth and raise some concerns about a ‘politics of Youth’. In order to draw the line, I’ve not included the more cryptic references to teaching and learning in his writings on Kafka, since in large part these references only make sense if you understand Benjamin’s concept of education and its relation to the religious concept of Lehre in his early writings.

  • 1911, Das Dornröschen (pub. in Der Angang, GS 2, 9-12; trans. Sleeping Beauty in EW 26-32).
  • 1911, Die Freie Schulgemeinde (pub. in Der Anfang, GS 7, 9-13; trans. The Free School Community, EW 39-45).
  • 1912, Lily Brauns Manifest an die Schuljugend (review of Lily Braun’s Die Emanzipation der Kinder, pub. in Die freie Schulgemeinde 2, Heft 2/3, GS 3, 9-11; untrans.)
  • 1912, Epilog (pub. in Bierzeitung der Kaiser-Friedrich-Schule, GS 7, 13-15; trans. Epilogue in EW 53-56).
  • 1912, Die Schulreform, eine Kulturbewegung (pub. in Student und Schulreform, GS 2, 12-16; trans. School Reform: A Cultural Movement in EW 57-61).
  • 1912, Dialog über die Religiosität der Gegenwart (GS 2, 16-35; trans. Dialogue on the Religiosity of the Present in EW 62-84).
  • 1913, Unterricht und Wertung (pub. in Der Anfang, GS 2, 35-42; trans. Teaching and Valuation in EW 90-100).
  • 1913, Romantik: Eine nicht gehaltene Rede an die Schuljugend (pub. in Der Anfang, GS 2, 42-47; trans. Romanticism: An Undelivered Address to Students in EW 101-107).
  • 1913, Der Moralunterricht (pub. in Die Freie Schulgemeinde, GS 2, 48-54; trans. Moral Education in EW 107-115).
  • 1913, “Erfahrung” (pub. in Der Anfang, GS 2, 54-56; trans. ‘Experience’ in EW 116-119, SW1 3-5).
  • 1913, Gedanken über Gerhart Hauptmanns Festspiel (pub. in Der Anfang, GS 2, 56-60; trans. Thoughts on Gerhard Hauptmann’s Festival Play in EW 120-125).
  • 1913, Romantik – Die Antwort des “Ungeweihten” (pub. in Der Anfang, GS 2, 47; trans. Romanticism: Reply to the “Unsanctified” in EW 132-134).
  • 1913, Die Jugend Schwieg (pub. Die Aktion, GS 2, 66-7; trans. Youth was Silent in EW 135-138).
  • 1913-4, Metaphysik der Jugend (GS 2, 91-104; trans. The Metaphysics of Youth in EW 144-160; SW1 6-17).
  • 1913-4, Studentische Autorenabende (pub. in Der Student, GS 2 68-71; trans. Student Authors’ Evenings in EW 161-165).
  • 1913-4, Erotische Erzieung (pub. in Die Aktion, GS 2, 71-2; trans. Erotic Education in EW 166-67).
  • 1914, Ziele und Wege der studentisch-pädagogischen Gruppen an reischsdeutschen Universitäten (pub. in Student und Pädagogik (Teubner: Leipzig, Berlin), GS 2, 60-66; trans. In boundary 2, forthcoming)
  • 1914, Das religiöse Stellung der neuen Jugend (pub. in Die Tat, GS 2, 72-74; trans. The Religious Position of the New Youth in EW 166-170).
  • 1915, Das Leben der Studenten (pub. in Der Neue Merkur, GS 2, 75-87; trans. The Life of Students in EW 197-210, SW1 37-47).
  • 1917, Letter to Scholem on educational theory, dated September 6th 1917 (trans. The Correspondence 1910-1940, 93-95).
  • 1921, Zur Kritik der Gewalt [education as manifestation of divine violence] (pub. Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, GS 2, 179-203; trans. Critique of Violence in SW1, 235-252)
  • 1921, Zur Geschichtsphilosophie der Spätromantik und der historischen Schule (Fragment 70, GS 6, 95-97; [discussion of pedagogic gaze in education] trans. The Philosophy of History of the Late Romantics and the Historical School in SW1 284-5).
  • 1921-2, Lernen und Üben (GS 6, 77-78; untrans).
  • 1928, Einbahnstrasse (pub. Ernst Rowohlt, Berlin; discussion of Erziehung in ‘To the Planetarium’ trans. SW1 486-7).
  • 1928-1929, Programm eines Proletarischen Kindertheaters (GS 2, 763-769; trans. Program for a Proletarian Children’s Theatre in SW2 201-206).
  • 1929, Eine Kommunistische Pädagogik (review of Edwin Hoernle’s Grundfragen der proletarischen Erziehung pub. in Die neue Bücherschau, GS 206-209; trans. A Communist Pedagogy in SW2 272-275).
  • 1930, Chichleuchlauchra: Zu einer Fibel (review of Tom Siedmann-Freud’s Hurra, wir Lesen! pub. in Frankfurter Zeitung, GS 3, 267-272; untrans.).
  • 1930, Kolonialpädagogik (review of Alois Jalkotzy’s Marchen und gegenwart. Das deutsche volkmarchen und unsere zeit pub. in Literaturblatt der Frankfurter Zeitung, GS 3, 272-274; untrans.).
  • 1931, Grünende Anfangsgründe: Noch etwas zu den Spielfibeln (review of Tom Siedmann-Freud, Spielfibel 2 & 3, GS 3, 311-314; untrans.).
  • 1930-1, Fragment 139 (on teaching-value) (GS 6, 172-3; trans. We Ought to Reexamine the Link Between Teaching and Research in SW2 419420).
  • 1931, Literaturgeschichte und Literaturwissenschaft (pub. in Die literarische Welt, GS 3, 283-290; trans. Literary History and the Study of Literature in SW2).
  • 1931, Hörmodelle (GS 4, 628; trans. Listening Models in RB 373-4).
  • 1932, Theater und Rundfunk, Zur gegenseitigen Kontrolle ihrer Erziehungsarbeit (pub. Blätter des hessischen Landestheaters, GS 2, 773-6; trans. Theatre and Radio: On Their Mutual Supervision of Their Educational Roles in RB 363-8, SW2 583-585).
  • 1932, Zweierlei Volkstümlichkeit (pub. in Rufer und Hörer, GS 4, 671-3; trans. Two Kinds of Popularity: Fundamental Principles for a Radio Play in RB 369-371).
  • 1932, Peztallozi in Yverdon: Zu einer vorbildlichen Monographie (review of Alfred Zander’s Leben und Erziehung in Pestalozzis Institut zu Iferten pub. in Literaturblatt der Frankfurt Zeitung, GS 3, 346-349; untrans.).
  • 1935, Probleme der Sprachsoziologie (pub. Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, GS 3, 452-480; trans. Problems in the Sociology of Language: An Overview in SW3 -93).
  • 1934, Der Autor als Produzent (GS 2, 683-701; trans. The Author as Producer in SW 2, 768-781)
  • 1935-6, Fragment on Teaching-Value (GS 7, 678-9; trans. Theory of Distraction in SW3 141-142).
  • 1935, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (first version: GS 1, 431-470; second version: GS 7, 350-384; third version: GS 1, 471-508; trans. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, second version: SW3 101-133; third version: 251-283)
  • 1938, Ein deutsches Institut freier Forschung (pub. Mass und Wert, GS 3, 518-526; trans. A German Institute for Independent Research in SW3 307-316).
  • 1939, Kommentare zu Gedichten von Brecht [on Brecht and youth] (pub. Schweizer Zeitung am Sonntag, GS 2, 539-572; trans. Commentary on Poems by Brecht in SW4 215-250)
  • 1938-9, Notiz über Brecht [critique of Brecht and youth] (GS 6, 540; trans. Note on Brecht in SW4 159)
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