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Literature and Affect 2014 : DEADLINE EXTENDED Literature and Affect (AAL Conference 2014) - University of Melbourne - July 2-4 2014


When Jul 2, 2014 - Jul 4, 2014
Where University of Melbourne
Submission Deadline Mar 14, 2014
Categories    literature   affect   critical theory

Call For Papers

What is “the affective turn” and where did it come from?

The relationship between literature and affect has long been a fraught one. On the
one hand, the discipline of literary criticism derives from early eighteenth- century
aesthetic philosophy that can be understood as an attempt to theorize pleasure. On
the other, after Kant, criticism is predicated upon the separation of feeling from
judgment. Enshrining this separation as a principle of critical practice, W. K. Wimsatt
and Monroe C. Beardsley formulated “The Affective Fallacy” (1949) to name the
shame of an emotional entanglement with the literary text. Here, the aesthetic
functions as a conceptual mechanism for separating pleasure and value. And if
pleasure is such a contested topic, what about pain, what about the ugly feelings?
(to use Sianne Ngai’s coinage). And where is the body in all of this?

More recently, the so-called “affective turn” has turned a new attention upon the
world of feeling. It returns literary criticism to New Criticism’s scandalous scene of
the affective fallacy in order to re-evaluate the languages of feeling. A shaping force
in illuminating the value of the affective has been queer theory, in its vital exploration
of the transformative potential both of forward-looking utopian desires and
backwards feelings such as shame. The affective turn has also been powered by the
recognition that emotion and history are not opposed, and that emotion itself has a
history. (Indeed, in a dramatic statement of the inseparability of history and affect,
the Marxist cultural historian, Fredric Jameson, asserts that “History is what hurts”.)
Perhaps paradoxically, new intensities of interest in literary form (e.g. as objectified
and “unfelt” emotion) and in the cognitive dimensions of feeling also energize this
turn and challenge the distinction between reason and feeling.

We invite papers that engage with any aspect of literature and affect; explore the
significance for literature of the affective turn that has informed the humanities more
broadly; analyse the relationship between affect and the literary aesthetic; engage
affect and emotion to explore (or indeed contest) the singularity of literature. We also
invite papers that consider literature and affect historically, and that consider affect,
literature and the problem of evaluation (aka judgment).

Confirmed keynote speakers:
• Heather Love (University of Pennsylvania
• Sharon Marcus (Columbia University)
• Gillian Russell (Australian National University)

Possible topics might include:
• Literary hedonisms and literary pleasure Practices
of reading New formalisms Cultures of taste
• Memory and affective histories Affect and
temporality Literature and public emotions Theories
of affect and emotion Fandom, celebrity, scandal
Cognitive literary criticism, psychoanalysis and the
neurosciences Pain and trauma
• Sensation and corporeality Sexuality and eroticism
Literary and aesthetic judgment Aesthetic-affective
moods, modes and tones (e.g. sentiment,
melodrama, camp)
• Non-human, impersonal and animal affect Actors
and performance Emotions and new media (e.g.
memes, avatars, social networking)

Please submit a title and 500-word abstract
for proposed papers by Friday 14 March 2014 via the submission form on the AAL
conference website.

Conference organizers: Clara Tuite, Sarah Balkin, Sarah Comyn, Corey Wakeling
(English and Theatre Studies, The University of Melbourne)

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