Anglophone Modernities in Literature and Culture

Much of how we understand and study culture is focused on rationality, consciousness, and the mind, emphasizing the primacy of language in meaning making processes. But what about how cultures are felt, and maybe felt differently by different individuals? Emotion and affect have come to dominate not only culture and politics but also cultural theory in various different ways. From a ”culture of fear” to the medicalized understanding of ”feeling” (as in pain, depression, trauma), affects play a dominant role in contemporary culture. Affect theory and the ”turn to affect” have emphasized the importance of emotion, feeling, and affect in how we understand ourselves and the world around us. In this class we will study the field of affect theory, which is by no means a consensual discourse. Because what really is affect and how does it work? Do feelings come from within or do they circulate horizontally being attached to different people, objects, and situations? We will explore the cultural and theoretical implications of affect and feelings, such as fear, happiness, hope or hate and study how affect connects people with one another in individual as well as social contexts. How do emotions work to align people and motivate them as spectators or as a collective? And how are emotions used to achieve certain goals? These are some of the questions that will guide our study of affect. We will read texts by scholars such as Raymond Williams, Sara Ahmed, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Brian Massumi, and Lauren Berlant to understand the different theoretical approaches to affect and culture. This is a theory class so please be prepared to read and engage with at times challenging texts and ideas. Furthermore, this is a face to face seminar, which means that you will have to attend class and class discussions.