Narratives of Affect/Affective Narratives: Recent Work on Emotion, Affect and Trauma (w/C. Lit 599)
After years of scholarship in recent studies featuring the "waning of affect" (in Jameson's famous phrase about postmodernism), study of affect, emotion, trauma, and "feelings" in modern and contemporary literary and cultural texts is now, again, a topic of theoretical and critical attention, with a growing number of conferences, fellowships, books, and journal articles devoted to it. This course will read essays from (mostly) contemporary theorists from a variety of disciplines with an eye toward seeing what the current debates and contexts are. We’ll ask such questions as: What are the stakes in differentiating “affect” from “emotion"? How are emotion and affect related to recent work in trauma and memory studies? What about attention to affect in photography, film and other visual arts? What constitutes “public feeling”? In addition to thinking through socio-cultural contexts, we'll consider fiction and narrative shape, the production of readerly affect, and representation as a site for theorizing emotion.
Since emotions have histories, and since various nations, classes, ethnicities, cultures, genders, and sexualities produce different affective narratives, students will be free to select a specific emotion/affect/site/visual or verbal text on which to write, and to situate this writing in a historical moment and particular culture of their choice. Students who are already focused on a text or set of texts in their graduate studies are welcome to continue that work in the theoretical contexts of the course. But new projects are also fine. The course is open both to those who have begun thinking about affect studies and to those new to the topic.