Applied Benjamin: Educational Thought, Research and Pedagogy


  • Patti Lather Ohio State University
  • John Kitchens Colorado State University


Our interest in this essay is how Walter Benjamin might be of use in efforts to shift the imaginary of educational thought, research and pedagogy in the contemporary moment, what might be called “applied Benjamin” (Menninghaus, 1999, p. 200). Within poststructural work in education, Benjamin will be situated as a precursor where he has much to say about a variety of topics: language production and translation; interpretation, allegory and storytelling; image, representations and the “aura”; memory, remembrance and narrative; urban modernization and commodification; historical knowledge (truth) and discontinuity; praxis and progress (historical); and “dialectical” images.

After a brief introduction to Benjamin, the essay will survey the ways he has been, and might still and yet be put to use in education. We will then unpack the central themes of such application in terms of how his work can be used to articulate a different sort of thought, research and pedagogy in education.