Vancouver Institute for Social Research: Jerry Zaslove

November 10, 2014

The Vancouver Institute for Social Research (VISR) is an independent, para-academic, graduate-level, theory-based free school that began in Feb. 2013. Our intent is to move beyond the borders of the traditional university and to open up a more accessible platform in the city for the engaged discussion of critical theory.


The Institute’s third session, which will be organized around the theme of “Aesthetics and Politics,” will be held from Sept – Dec, 2014. Once a week on Monday evenings from 7-9 pm at the Or Gallery (555 Hamilton Street), we will be inviting professors to present on topics of their choice over this period.


Though we have an operational budget of $0, the seminars will be free to the public. All professors will be offering their services on a voluntary basis.


Organized by the East Vancouver Young Hegelians
Chapter 13 (Negating the Negation Faction)


Jerry Zaslove — Benjamin’s ‘Litmus Test’: The Aesthetics of Violence and Culture as an ‘Enigmatic Signifier’


I will try to conceptualize Benjamin¹s use of violence as the State driven “enigmatic signifier” of culture that creates complicity that masks the negative of repression of violence within the rights based powerlessness of culture to arrest structural violence. The enigma of the negative of violence in modernity lies in the fear and reality of complicity with violence.

Participant Bios

Jerry Zaslove is a teacher and writer in the fields of Comparative Literature and Social History of Art influenced but not limited by the traditions of critical theory for the arts, aesthetics, psychoanalysis, and social thought. Most recent writing: Kafka in the Penal Colony, essays on the place of the University in society, Exile and memory, the City in History – Elsewhere and Otherwise, forms and social realities of thinking about community. Dr. Zaslove has taught at SFU since its opening year – home in English, Humanities, and as Founding Director of the Institute for the Humanities.