Theaters of Justice: Judging, Staging, and Working through in Arendt, Brecht, and Delbo

By Yasco Horsman | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Judging, staging, and Working Through

I opened this series of reflections by invoking the politically urgent intellectual task that Adorno had prescribed to writers, intellectuals, and pedagogues in the wake of World War II: to conceive of a pedagogical practice that, going beyond the mere conveying of information, would actively work against the many forms of resistance obscuring true insight into what had happened and would thereby contribute toward a process of coming to terms with the past. As I indicated in my introduction, in the decades following the publication of Adorno’s essay, his assignment was fulfilled not only by writers, psychologists, and filmmakers in West Germany, where a true cult of so-called Vergangenheitsbewältigung emerged, but also by politicians and lawyers within and outside Germany, who discovered in the format of the legal trial a means to stage a national pedagogical scene. A trial, it was believed, has the unique capacity to bring the past to the national stage, and because it culminates in a verdict it could provide—perhaps—a healing moment of closure. The texts I have analyzed by Arendt, Brecht, and Delbo in this book offer reflections on the underlying premises of this conception of the trial as a site of learning and national healing, either by exploring the didactic possibilities of the theatrical setting of the courtroom and investigating the relations between judging and learning or by confronting their readers with a woundedness that forecloses the possibility of (legal) repair and resists being addressed within the confines of the law. Because my readings have been mainly attentive to the singular ways in which the texts of Arendt, Brecht, and

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