The Life of a Cultural Historian November 25, 2015

English Literature Professor Manfred Weidhorn Reflects on 52 Year Career at Yeshiva University

Since 1963, Yeshiva University students looking for an engaging encounter with English literature have been able to find courses taught by Dr. Manfred Weidhorn, the Abraham and Irene Guterman Chair in English Literature and professor emeritus of English, on the roster.

20151119_Manfred_Weidhorn_020An immigrant from Vienna who earned his PhD in English at Columbia University, Weidhorn is a prolific scholar and writer whose works include a dozen non-fiction books and over a hundreds essays on Shakespeare, Milton, Winston Churchill, Galileo, literary themes, cultural history, and the relationship between religion and science, in addition to young adult biographies of Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, and Jackie Robinson. At Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women, he has taught classes on topics that range from the Russian short novel to the Scientific Revolution and everything in between, encouraging students to approach each topic in new and sometimes unconventional ways.

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The Long(ish) Read: Walter Benjamin Unpacking his Library

Walter Benjamin in Paris. Image © Gisèle Freund

Welcome to The Long(ish) Read: a new AD feature which uncovers texts written by notable essayists which resonate with contemporary architecture, interior architecture, urbanism or landscape design. In this essay, written in 1931, Walter Benjamin narrates the process of unpacking his library. All in boxes, he takes the reader through elements of his book collection: the memories attached to them, the importance he placed on the act of ‘collecting’ and the process of accumulation, and how objects like books inhabit a space.

Walter Benjamin in brief

Born in Germany in 1892, Benjamin was known as a ‘man of letters’. Having been educated in Switzerland he had a short career in the lead up to the Second World War, which saw him carve a niche as a literary critic. In the 1930s he turned to Marxism, partly due to the influence of Bertolt Brecht and partly due to the rise of extreme right-wing politics in Europe. He spent much of his professional life in Paris, where he wrote this essay. Benjamin died in 1940 having committed suicide at the French–Spanish border while attempting to escape the Nazis. Read more...