European Leo Baeck Institute Lecture Series and Jews, Politics and Austria

Wednesday 23 May, 6.30pm at the German Historical Institute

Prof Vivian Liska (University of Antwerp)

‘Before the Law stands a doorkeeper. To this doorkeeper comes a man…’: Kafka, Narrative and the Law

This lecture is organised in cooperation with the German Historical Institute and the Austrian Cultural Forum.

You can download the leaflet of the European Leo Baeck Institute Lecture Series here.

You can download the leaflet of this lecture as part of the Jews, Politics and Austria series here.


References to the law pervade Kafka’s writings, but their meaning remains elusive. It is precisely because it is uncertain whether the law in Kafka’s work is to be understood in juridical, religious, literary, or more generally ontological terms that it has elicited numerous and often contradictory interpretations. The lecture will explore how this indeterminacy and its effects have inspired concepts of justice in modernist thinkers as well as the relationship between law and narrative and its correlation with Jewish approaches to the interaction between Halacha and Aggadah.

Vivian Liska is Senior Professor of German literature and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Her research focuses on modernist literature, German-Jewish literature and culture, and literary theory. She is the author of Die Nacht der Hymnen and Das schelmische Erhabene. Her most recent book is Fremde Gemeinschaft. Deutsch-jüdische Literatur der Moderne (2011).

Entry is free but seating is limited. Please book in advance via the Leo Baeck Institute (email info@leobaeck.co.uk or phone 020 7882 5690). This lecture will be held at the German Historical Institute (17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A2NJ).