October 22, 2019 – January 21, 2020
Ruth Kanner (Tel Aviv University),
Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University)
Research assistant: Adi Havin
The aim of the Interrupting Kafka Research Group (RG) is to create a research laboratory where artistic creativity and academic research can interact with each other as complementary forms of thought and action, sharing the same physical and conceptual spaces. This approach reflects recent developments in the study and research of the humanities and the arts, recognizing that a direct dialogue between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ is crucial for both. The RG will consist of scholars in literary studies, theatre and performance studies, the history of ideas and philosophy as well as artists of theatre, performance and the visual arts.
Franz Kafka’s writings will serve as the point of departure for this collaborative investigation. The theoretical framework is based on Walter Benjamin’s observation in his 1934 landmark essay on the tenth anniversary of Kafka’s death, where he maintains that Kafka’s entire oeuvre “constitutes a code of gestures” for which the theatre, Benjamin emphatically added, is the given place of investigation. Benjamin also provides the basic methodological tools for this investigation by expanding the concept of the caesura, which originally refers to a break or pause in a verse, to include the comprehensive poetic, dramatic and performative principles based on the ‘Interruption’ (die Unterbrechung).
According to Benjamin, the Interruption is one of the constitutive features of Bertolt Brecht’s epic theatre, creating gestures on which the principles of estrangement (verfremdung) are based. The RG will open up a new field of study to explore innovative forms of collaborative research by devising and examining a broad range of interruptive interactions and interferences both within and between such gestural codes as well as in the flow of thought and action themselves. These interruptive codes are the intermediate expressions of space/time Benjamin termed the ‘standstill’ (the pause or the break) through which it is possible to perceive, enact and even bring forth a radical change in the order of things.