Esther Leslie

Esther Leslie is Professor in Political Aesthetics, Birkbeck, University of London. She is frequently invited to speak in the UK, Europe, the US, and occasionally Australia, China, and India.

  • Dissonant Waves

    Dissonant Waves

    Ernst Schoen and Experimental Sound in the 20th century

    Sam Dolbear and Esther Leslie

    An investigation of the cultures and technologies of early radio and how a generation of cultural operators—with Schoen at the center—addressed crisis and adversity.

    Dials, knobs, microphones, clocks; heads, hands, breath, voices. Ernst Schoen joined Frankfurt Radio in the 1920s as programmer and accelerated the potentials of this collision of bodies and technologies. As with others of his generation, Schoen experienced crisis after crisis, from the violence of war, the suicide of friends, economic collapse, and a brief episode of permitted experimentalism under the Weimar Republic, for those who would foster aesthetic, technical, and political revolution. The counterreaction was Nazism—and Schoen and his milieux fell victim to it, found ways out of it, or hit against it with all their might.

    Dissonant Waves tracks the life of Ernst Schoen—poet, composer, radio programmer, theorist, and best friend of Walter Benjamin from childhood—as he moves between Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, and London. It casts radio history and practice into concrete spaces, into networks of friends and institutions, into political exigencies and domestic plights, and into broader aesthetic discussions of the politicization of art and the aestheticization of politics. Through friendship and comradeship, a position in state-backed radio, imprisonment, exile, networking in a new country, re-emigration, ill-treatment, neglect, Schoen suffers the century and articulates its broken promises.

    An exploration of the ripples of radio waves, the circuits of experimentation and friendship and the proposals that half-found a route into the world, and might yet spark political-technical experimentation.

    • Paperback $29.95


  • The Films of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen

    The Films of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen

    Scripts, Working Documents, Interpretation

    Oliver Fuke

    An examination of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's independent and collaborative films and their intersections with feminism, film theory, and psychoanalysis.

    This book examines renowned theorists Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's independent and collaborative films, focusing how they intersect with feminism, film theory, and psychoanalysis.

    The aim of the volume is broadly threefold: to encourage further study of Mulvey and Wollen's contributions to the theory and practice of experimental film; to draw attention to the value of their scrips as written texts; and to challenge the common misconception that their individual and collaborative filmmaking practices end at the close of the 1970s. The historical overview provided by Mulvey in her introduction underscores the sense that their individual and collaborative films were the result of sustained attempts to make political films under rapidly changing economic and political conditions.

    • Hardcover $36.95
  • Walter Benjamin Reimagined

    Walter Benjamin Reimagined

    A Graphic Translation of Poetry, Prose, Aphorisms, and Dreams

    Frances Cannon

    An illuminated tour of Walter Benjamin's ideas; a graphic translation; an encyclopedia of fragments.

    Walter Benjamin was a man of letters, an art critic, an essayist, a translator, a philosopher, a collector, and an urban flâneur. In his writings, he ambles, samples, and explores. With Walter Benjamin Reimagined, Frances Cannon offers a visual and literary response to Benjamin's work. With detailed and dreamlike pen-and-ink drawings and hand-lettered text, Cannon gives readers an illuminated tour of Walter Benjamin's thoughts—a graphic translation, an encyclopedia of fragments.

    Cannon has not created a guide to Benjamin's greatest ideas—this is not an illustrated Walter Benjamin cheat sheet—but rather a beautifully rendered work of graphic literature. Cannon doesn't plod through thickets of minutiae; she strolls—a flâneuse herself—using Benjamin's words and her own drawings to construct a creative topography of Benjamin's writing. Phrases from “Unpacking My Library,” for example, are accompanied by images of flying papers, stray books, stacked books—books “not yet touched by the mild boredom of order”—and a bearded mage. Cannon takes the reader through different periods of Benjamin's writing: “Artifacts of Youth,” nostalgic musings on his childhood; “Fragments of a Critical Eye,” early writings, political observations, and cultural criticism; “Athenaeum of Imagination,” meditations on philosophy and psychology; “A Stroll through the Arcades,” Benjamin's unfinished magnum opus; and “A Collection of Dreams and Stories,” experimental and fantastical writings.

    With drawings and text, Cannon offers a phantasmagorical tribute to Benjamin's wandering eye.

    • Hardcover $24.95