An itinerant project exploring urban errors, discrepancies, and territories in Walter Benjamin's Moscow Diary (1926)


Straying: The Drift of History

A symposium at Princeton University revisiting the interplay of history and memory in Walter Benjamin's Moscow Diary

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Curatorial practice
  • Philosophy / Theory

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Princeton University


Eduardo Cadava, Michael Jennings


Project curated by Xenia Vytuleva, Aaron Levy, and Eduardo Cadava

Process initiated


Opens to public





Princeton University
Robertson Bowl 2
Princeton, New Jersey


100% Formal - 0% Informal

Slought and the Department of German at Princeton University are pleased to announce "Straying: The Drift of History in Walter Benjamin's Moscow Diary," a roundtable at Princeton University in New Jersey on Thursday, November 19, 2015 in Robertson Bowl 2 from 4:30-7pm. The event will explore the interplay of history and memory in Benjamin's work, and will feature presentations by scholars Devin Fore, Gerhard Richter, and Christina Kiaer, followed by a conversation moderated by Michael Jennings and Eduardo Cadava.

The symposium will build upon Walter Benjamin's own experiences in Moscow in December 1926, as recorded in Moscow Diary, his personal diary. The urban landscape of Moscow becomes for Benjamin a prism that enables continuously shifting interpretations about a matrix of issues ranging from the interpersonal to the spatial and the political. Our project seeks to retrace his winter movements through an unfamiliar language, culture, community and territory. In so doing, we seek to turn Benjamin's diary into a manual, in effect, one that decodes the concept of "straying" in relation to both local and global considerations.

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The speakers participating in this symposium will contribute their voices to a collective understanding of straying, exploring the mechanisms that enable one to stray through art, philosophy, geography, and politics.

This conversation, which started in Moscow in September 2015, will then migrate to Philadelphia in December 2015, where an exhibition at Slought will translate the diary into a visual language. Throughout, we seek to explore straying not just as an intellectual pursuit but as a life practice, building upon Benjamin's commitment to developing a capacity for losing oneself in urban environments.


Devin Fore
Princeton University

Gerhard Richter
Brown University

Christina Kiaer
Northwestern University

Michael Jennings
Princeton University

Eduardo Cadava
Princeton University