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Sensation! Affect, the Body, and the Market

Semester and Year FA 2014
Course Number IDSEM-UG1733
Section 001
Instructor Yevgeniya Traps
Days M
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



The word "sensation" not only indicates “an operation of any of the senses,” but also “an exciting experience” (OED). This course explores the cultural resonance of "sensation" by asking the following questions: What are the connections between the impressions received by our senses and what is commonly understood as a “sensational” event or experience? How does bodily feeling translate into received opinion? And how does the market shape the reactions of our very senses? What do aesthetics, psychology and marketing have to do with the making of sensational phenomena? We explore the various meanings of “sensation” in literature and art, taking on questions of affect, scintillation, and outrage, while exploring the various personal and social meanings ascribed to sensational books, art exhibits, and other popular trends. For example, taking Wilkie Collins’s 1860 work The Woman in White , which inaugurated a decade-long craze for novels dealing with bigamy, murder, and insanity, and the 1997 “Sensation” exhibit organized by the art collector Charles Saatchi, featuring such notorious works as Tracey Emin’s Everyone I Have Ever Slept With , Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde-suspended shark, and Chris Ofili’s portrait of the Virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung, we explore how titillation, captivation, shock, and disgust are produced, shaped, and experienced. Other readings include Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Sylvie Gilbert, Susan Sontag, and Sigmund Freud.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)