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Werner Grilk Annual Lecture

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
5:00 AM
Michigan League - Kalamazoo Room

Kafka, Narrative and the Law

TOPIC: Kafka, Narrative and the Law

References to the law pervade Kafka’s writings, but their meaning remains elusive. It is precisely because it is uncertain whether the law in Kafka’s work is to be understood in juridical, religious, literary, or more generally ontological terms that it has elicited numerous and often contradictory interpretations, which shed light on the relationship between these different realms. The lecture will explore how this indeterminacy and its effects have inspired concepts of justice in modernist thinkers from Scholem and Benjamin to Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben, as well as the relationship between law and narrative and its correlation with Jewish approaches to the interaction between Halacha and Aggadah.



Vivian Liska is Senior Professor of German literature and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She is also, since 2013, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. 

Her research focuses on modernist literature, German-Jewish literature and culture, and literary theory. She is the editor of the De Gruyter book series “Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts,” of the Yearbook of the Association of European-Jewish Literature, of the comparative literature journal arcadia (with John Neubauer) and of numerous books, among them the two volume ICLA publication Modernism and What does the Veil Know? 

Vivian Liska is the author of several monographs, among them  Die Nacht der Hymnen (on Paul Celan), ‘Die Moderne – ein Weib’ (on Turn of the Century German women novelists),  Das schelmische Erhabene (on Else Lasker-Schüler), Giorgio Agamben’s leerer Messianismus and When Kafka Says We. Her most recent book is Fremde Gemeinschaft. Deutsch-jüdische Literatur der Moderne . She is currently working on a book entitled The Jewish Tradition in Modern Thought. A Tenuous Legacy to be published with Indiana University Press in 2014-2015 and a study of philosophical reception of Kafka’s work.

Vivian Liska