This book is the first to consider the presence of history and the question of historical practice in Walter Benjamin's work.
Benjamin, the critic and philosopher of history, was also the practitioner, the authors contend, and it is in the practice of historical writing that the materialist aspect of his thought is most evident. Some of the essays analyze Benjamin's writings in cultural history and the philosophy of history.
Others connect his historical and theoretical practices to issues in contemporary feminism and post-colonial studies, and to cultural contexts including the United States, Japan, and Hong Kong.
In different ways, the authors all find in Benjamin's specific notion of historical materialism a dialectic between textual and cultural analysis which can reinvigorate the relation between literary and historical studies.