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Feeling, in Theory

Semester and Year SP 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1699
Section 001
Instructor Eve Meltzer
Days T
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



Over the past two decades, scholars from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives—literature, women’s studies, political science, and aesthetics, to name a few—have returned to the question of “affect,” also referred to as “feeling” or “emotion,” as well as “passion,” “pathos,” “mood,” or even “love.” This course aims to familiarize students with the field of “affect theory” by surveying some of the most important texts that ground it (such as Aristotle, Raymond Williams, Freud, and Tomkins) as well as several that have emerged more recently (Deleuze and Guattari, Massumi, Ahmed, Ngai, among others). Much of our work together will be to read closely some very difficult theoretical texts, each of which attempts to describe what affect is, and why it matters to and for a wide range of experiences: political, aesthetic, musical, and psychic, among them. Additionally, over the course of the semester we will focus on some specific affective states and the texts that have grappled with their deep structure—from “cruel optimism," to happiness, anxiety, boredom, and depression. Lastly, we will undertake some experimental work by collaborating to produce what we might call "affective events" that may serve to instruct, persuade, or otherwise make an impact through affective means. While this course has no prerequisites, it is particularly appropriate for students who have some exposure to structuralist, poststructuralist, and/or postmodernist discourses, and are also up for the challenge of reading some rather difficult theoretical material.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)