This conference has capacious aims! In and across the diverse practices and studies of affect, how might we continue to ‘find room’ or ‘make space’ and under what circumstances might such a framing for affect study be problematic? Modeled on the same ethos of community building, mentorship, and intellectual generosity that guides Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affective Inquiry, this conference will be open to all (students, faculty, non-academics, and others) while emphasizing the crucial role of graduate students and early career researchers in shaping the scholarship in affect study.
August 08-11, 2018
Millersville University’s Ware Center
Make Space on Your Calendar
Mar 15 2018
Papers submission deadline streams or interstices
Aug 08 2018
Aug 09-11 2018
Three full conference days
Registration for the conference will begin April 15, 2018 and is $120 for graduate students if received on or before July 1 ($150 after July 1) and $200 faculty ($240 after July 1). Registration includes admittance to all conference events, including August 8 opening reception, at least one conference meal, and special conference-related activities in downtown Lancaster.
If you are a published in Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry by the date of the conference, your registration fee for the conference will be waived.
Please CLICK HERE to make a payment and register for the conference. Payment can be done via Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card. If someone else (your academic department, a colleague, etc) is paying your registration for you, take note of the ‘buying for someone else’ option—this will assure that we have the correct name affiliated with the payment. Be aware that registration costs will reset to a higher level ($150/$240) after July 1st.
After paying for your conference registration, you will receive a confirmation email which includes a link to fill out details for your conference badge, make your selection of conference workshop, and enter a few additional details like dietary restrictions, accessibility needs, and preferred pronoun. Please consult the conference website for workshop descriptions and instructor name (workshops will cap at 25 students and are first-come, first-serve).
If you have any questions or concerns about the registration process, send an email to email@example.com.
Every spotlight speaker at the conference will also convene a graduate student workshop on Thursday or Friday evening of the conference. Every accepted presenter at the conference will have an opportunity to sign up for one of these workshops. Selection of your chosen workshop is on a first come, first served basis coinciding with payment of your conference registration. Most workshops will be capped at 25 students (some perhaps slightly more, some less). Descriptions of the workshops will be posted to the conference website by February 15, 2018.
Taking notes is a–if not the–central practice in research. In traditional qualitative research (i.e. ethnography, interviews, surveys, site research) researchers trace observations through writing descriptions, summaries, and short jottings as fieldnotes. While often written by hand in notebooks, a range of increasingly available and easy-to-use digital media create more avenues for fieldnote practice. Alongside and with handwritten notes about an experience or a text, how might cultivating practices of recording sounds, capturing images, and taking videos reorient fieldnote practice? An initial response would be to reconsider fieldnotes less as a description of an event and more as an activity of prolonging affective encounters.
In this two-session workshop, participants will discuss and practice inventive, ethical, and sustainable techniques for gathering, collecting, and sharing fieldnotes through multiple media. In the first session, participants will be introduced to the practice of affective fieldnotes through a group discussion and shared examination of examples—in the intermission between the sessions, participants will practice affective fieldnotes throughout a conference day—in the second session, participants will share their practices of affective fieldnotes and discuss how fieldnotes can be used as foundations for published projects.
Shared readings will include: Kathleen Stewart, “Tactile Compositions”; Sarah Bridges-Rhoads, “Philosophical Fieldnotes”; Heather Love, “Close Reading and Thin Description”; Pamela Richardson-Ngwenya, “Performing a more-than-human material imagination during fieldwork”; Sam Smiley, “Field Recording or Field Observation?”; Frederik Bøhling, “The Field Note Assemblage”
Affect is often characterized as the ineffable, the prelinguistic or unnameable something that hews together publics, intimate or otherwise. And yet, a controversial mural, a humorous stencil, a monumental sculpture, these residues of visual culture, public communication, and collective memory can serve as relays, depositories, or generators for affect. This workshop asks participants to consider the role of affect in the visual, and the visual in affect, and vice versa. Though it is framed with an eye towards honing methodology, participants do not necessarily have to possess a pre-conceived project at the ready—it can be speculative. Drawing from scholars in visual rhetoric, visual studies, affect, and aesthetics it thinks about how modes of scholarly production: documentation, archival production, and analysis involve affect in an immanent way. As a structure of feeling, undercurrent in popular culture, flash of controversy, or framework for sharing space. We will draw from the works of scholars like Rose, Finnegan, Cram, Hariman, Lucaites, Loehwing, Bruce, Kang, Rancière, Rice, Mirzoeff and others. Selections from assigned readings will be provided to participants. If participants wish to circulate abstracts (from one paragraph to two pages) to colleagues before, they are very welcome to do so.
Sylvia Wynter is a Jamaican-Cuban novelist, dramatist, critic, philosopher, essayist and Professor Emerita of Spanish Literature at Stanford. Her oeuvre investigates and challenges the metaphysical and ontological imperialism that underwrites the globalizing equation of a Eurocentric conception of “Man” with “the human” itself. This discussion-based workshop will consider the potential of Sylvia Wynter’s theory of sociogeny for the field of affect studies. Traversing the disciplinary discourses of cognitive science, phenomenology, philosophy of mind, and black studies, in engaging Fanon’s well-known provocation “Besides phylogeny and ontogeny stands sociogeny,” Wynter’s “Towards the Sociogenic Principle” arrives at a theorization which thinks affect at the nexus of mind-body-world in light of the ongoing production of a racially-teleological conception of the Human. We will read Wynter’s “Towards the Sociogenic Principle: Fanon, The Puzzle of Conscious Experience, of ‘Identity’ and What it’s Like to be ‘Black’” alongside and in dialogue with Frantz Fanon’s pathbreaking Black Skin, White Masks, which Wynter cites as the precedent for her theorization of the interrelation of race and affect and David Marriott’s critical engagement with both Fanon’s and Wynter’s treatments of affect.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks; Sylvia Wynter, “Towards the Sociogenic Principle: Fanon, The Puzzle of Conscious Experience, of ‘Identity’ and What it’s Like to be ‘Black’”; David Marriott, “Inventions of Existence: Sylvia Wynter, Frantz Fanon, Sociogeny, and ‘the Damned’”
What do we mean when we describe something as haunting? Both as adjective and as noun, the word indexes a peculiar imbrication of affect and time: something not fully present, but not yet past, provoking intensities of feeling, yet difficult to grasp and hold. This workshop foregrounds conceptions of haunting and hauntedness as a means of investigating the temporalization of affect. We will consider how haunting, in both the aesthetic and the spectral sense, shifts between forms of feeling (fear, grief, desire) and of materialization (lingering, vanishing). As we work through the affective structures of haunting, we will also take into account how it manifests in psychoanalytic thought, where it designates something that can neither be remembered nor forgotten, and in cultural theory, where it references the emotional charge that attends the critical contemplation of historical violence. And, defying Derrida’s confident assertion that “[t]here has never been a scholar who really… deals with ghosts,” we will explore, in small discussion groups and in writing exercises, the utility of affect theory and new materialism for grappling with the matter of the specter. Participants will be asked to bring something that haunts.
In the wake of the turn to affect, much stimulating scholarly work explores the vital role affect, emotion and feeling might play in catalyzing radical social change. And yet, theories of affect also underscore powerful interpretations of political stasis and ‘stuckness’ – from Margaret Wetherell’s (2013) analysis of how we repeatedly engage in practices of ‘affective citation’, as emotional responses become habitual over time, to Lauren Berlant’s (2011) account of how ‘cruel optimism’ keeps us locked into self-defeating efforts to pursue ‘the good life’ in deteriorating conditions of social and economic opportunity. From this perspective, theorising the workings of contemporary social and political life requires that we understand not only the potential of affective ruptures and revolutions but also the workings of affective duration, repetition and automation – that is, both the habitual becoming and the becoming habitual of affect.
This workshop will explore how, and with what critical implications, ‘the affective’ and ‘the habitual’ are fundamentally intertwined, addressing such topics as: the affective habits of critical theory; emotional regulation and affective governance; digital structures of feeling and the sensations of algorithmic life; habits of white privilege and anti-racist praxis; affective atmospheres and habit disruption; the rhythms and routines of social justice; affective inhabitation and the sensation of change – and more.
The three-hour workshop will consist of an introductory lecture; sharing of participants’ pre-prepared ‘idea papers’ (in groups); and a closing roundtable discussion bringing together key themes and contributions of the session.
PDFs will be available via the conference website.
Bissell, David (2013) Habit Displaced: The Disruption of Skilful Performance. Geographical Research 51(1): 120-129.
Malabou, Catherine (2008) Addiction and Grace: Preface to Felix Ravaisson’s Of Habit. In Carlisle, Claire and Sinclair, Mark (eds) Of Habit (2008). Author: Felix Ravaisson. Trans. Clare Carlisle and Mark Sinclair. London and New York: Continuum.
Pedwell, Carolyn (2017) Mediated Habits: Images, Networked Affect and Social Change. Subjectivity 10(2): 147-169.
Idea papers (500-800 words)
Participants are asked to prepare a short ‘idea paper’ to be sent to the Convenor via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 1st August 2018. The paper should outline your interest in and/or contribution to the workshop themes and will form the basis for discussion on the day.
he relationship between writing and affect takes on wildly different meanings, depending on which preposition sits between the words “writing” and “affect.” Writing about affect is difficult. Writing against affect is pointless. Writing without affect is impossible. But, of all the prepositional possibilities, it is only writing with affect that offers a form of world-making.
Certain writers who move around, about, against, and with affect manage to teach not only through words, but also through performative styles, unorthodox case studies, and rhetorical approaches that are best described as “weak theory.” As Kathleen Stewart puts it, weak theory “comes unstuck from its own line of thought to follow the objects it encounters, or becomes undone by its attention to things that . . . take on a life of their own as problems for thought.” Weak theory stands in contrast to writing that adopts the traditional scholarly voice of an all-knowing expert who feels he must dispute, disturb, and destroy all other claims. In short, weak theory is a correction to this traditional voice, which we might otherwise dub “the asshole.”
In this workshop, we will discuss the act of writing about the unrepresentable without any pretense of epistemic mastery. We will test the boundaries of performative writing and theorizing. And, as promised, we will imagine what it looks like to write scholarly and theoretical texts without being an asshole. In short, we will discuss how to become unstuck through writing in order to follow the objects we encounter.
The first half of this workshop will focus on a discussion of the readings, while the second half will be a “hands on” writing workshop. Participants should be prepared to write, listen, share, and become unstuck.
Selections from: Claudia Rankine, Kathleen Stewart, Alphonso Lingis, Susan Lepselter, Michael Taussig, Georges Bataille, and others.
As the colors of ideology become more and more runny, the precognitive, embodied dimension of power is increasingly unavoidable. But there are remarkably few tools available to analyze politics as it is done by bodies. This workshop will zoom in on one facet of this embodied political network: charisma. Is there an affect theory of charisma? What does charisma feel like? How is charisma made and unmade? Is there a “microphysics” of charisma, in Foucault’s sense? What is the relationship between charismatic affect and formations of power? Is charisma exclusively human, or does it traffic in prehuman, animal, and material forces? Participants will break up into small groups, each of which will be assigned a short reading to work through together. The full group will then discuss the different theories of charisma on offer and assess them alongside video clips of charismatic performances.
One of the key forms in which affect currently appears across the disciplines is in the notion of the plasticity of bodies, minds, and non-human matter. Whether writing of malleable neural pathways or theories of the vital capacities of matter, current critical theory often celebrates the potential of plasticity to challenge legacies of rationality and biological determinism that lock individuals into distinct and unequal social and political positions. Yet plasticity too has long animated biopower and its calculation of the relative value of life. This workshop examines how plasticity, or the capacity to be affected, functions as a key vector of race and sex difference in two pivotal historical moments. In small groups, participants will explore the role of plasticity in primary sources from one of two periods: the Darwinian-Lamarckian era of nineteenth-century reform in which civilization was marked by the capacity for habitual behavior to impress into the flesh and form heritable qualities, and the 1950s invention of the modern notions of race and gender as effects of what was now understood to be the universal plasticity of the body. Our discussion will analyze how affective capacity undergirds the very nature of sex, race, and gender difference across these two periods, identifying points of commonality and distinction. Throughout we will ask: What might be included in an expanded archive of affect? How can our work reckon with affect’s function as an instrument of biopower? And how can we imagine affect otherwise?
From the diagnosis of gender dysphoria to reclamations of trans pride through visibility, and from the fear of “walking while trans” to collective grieving on Transgender Day of Remembrance, transgender lives are punctuated by an affective social economy of rage and desire the circulates and regulates gender expression. In this workshop we will discuss the dominant tropes for trans structures of feeling as represented in audiovisual media, and how they circumscribe an understanding of gender identity as being an individualistic choice. Then, by examining minor feelings, as Sianne Ngai (2007) describes, such as envy, irritation and paranoia, and I’d add the aesthetics of cuteness and sentimentality, the workshop will invite participants to open up a wider archive of trans affects that stray farther from medico-legal categories of personhood. Particular attention will be paid to the varying methods employed by scholars in the field of transgender studies to study trans affects as a site that might fuel transformative, intersectional politics. The facilitator will mix lecturing with individual writing responses, and group discussion.
Eliza Steinbock, “Disjunction and Conjunction: Thinking Trans through the Cinematic” the Introduction to Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment, and the Aesthetics of Change (Durhman: Duke UP, forthcoming Spring 2019).
Eliza Steinbock, Marianna Szczygielska and Anthony Wagner, eds. “Introduction: Thinking Linking.” Angelaki: Journal of Theoretical Humanities issue “Tranimacies: Intimate Links between Animal and Trans* Studies” 22.2 (2017): 1-10.
Much artistic and scholarly work within sound studies and the sonic arts has presented listening as a crucial political act: it is a vital component of activism, remembrance and community-building. Yet these important accounts on tend not to explicitly address listening’s intersections with social reproduction.
This workshop presents listening as a mode of affective labour. We interrogate how approaching listening as a form of waged and unwaged work may impact upon our understandings of sonic affect; and enable a re-evaluation of common conceptions about the politics of mediation. We consider how listening work, as a necessary, undervalued, commodified and exploited relation of care, is unevenly anticipated and distributed; and speculate on the possibilities of how listening relations might be reconfigured. Questions will also be raised regarding the challenges facing such an approach: what are the problems and limitations of understanding listening through notions of affective labour? When is listening not work? Workshop participants will be asked to reflect on their experiences of listening and being listened to. In doing so, we explore how listening extends beyond ears, sounds and words.
Like most fields across the academy, affect studies is a rich site for inquiry, but a great deal of its scholarship assumes and/or implicitly ascribes whiteness and heterosexuality, not to mention a white Western tradition or genealogy to its framing of affect. In other cases, some scholarship on minority gender, sexual and racial/ethnic/religious identities may come off as too totalizing, assuming a homogeneous set of reactions and contexts and culture that will not work for all minority subjects/abjects.
In this workshop graduate students working on journal articles and/or dissertation chapters are welcome to bring in their projects to hash through some of the more complex and challenging aspects of their engagement with race, class and gender in affect studies. In order to participate, participants must bring with them a 500-word proposal (two copies) of the project as it stands, as well as 3-5 questions (one copy) that lay out the particular challenges, paradoxes, contradictions, aporia, or conundrums with which you are wrestling. All projects must already be explicitly engaging with at least one aspect of a minoritarian identity, whether it be race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or religion–and the questions must be geared towards incorporating supporting analyses of at least two other aspects (i.e., if already dealing with race, then seeking to add gender and sexuality, and so on).
Students are required to bring a 500-word proposal and 3-5 questions and yes, all projects should be engaging with affect through race, gender and sexuality–or including at least one of those components and seeking how to think through the other two.
This workshop explores the affective life of collaboration. Drawing on our own experiences researching, writing, and teaching together, we discuss the joys, ambivalences, surprises, and pains of partnership. Generally speaking, academic culture feels increasingly sped-up, competitive, and unrelenting in its hold on our egos. We think about how working together in deliberate ways and on unexpected projects can open up new sensibilities, approaches, and possibilities for academic life. We also consider the challenges of pursuing sustained, and sometimes slow, collaborative work in the neoliberal academy. Some questions we might discuss include: How do you get a collaboration started? What makes a partnership workable and productive? How do you navigate evaluation and tenure/promotion processes as a co-author/producer? How might we think about collaboration with students and in our classrooms? Workshop format is informal lecture-discussion and hands-on experimentation with collaborative thinking and writing.
WalkingLabStone Walks Lancaster: Militarisms, migration, and speculative geology
Friday August 10, 2017 at 7:15 pm
Join WalkingLab for a 90+ minute walk in Lancaster
Meet outside the front doors of the Ware Centre
Queering the format of a walking tour, Stone Walks Lancaster will include pop-up lectures and artistic interventions into the name/place/concept 'Lancaster,' approaching topics from a queer, feminist, Indigenous and critical race framework.
Come prepared to walk with water, and other necessary items. The walk will be accessible on paved sidewalks. The event is free and open to the public.
Pop up lectures by Chad Shomura, Sarah Cefai, Michelle Wright, Dana Luciano, Greg Seigworth, and WalkingLab.
Stream proposals have now been selected. The twenty-one panel streams for the conference are listed below. Click on the titles of the individual stream to look at its description and suggested topics / subtopics.
Jennifer Lin LeMesurier
Ableism, briefly defined, is the making of “able-bodiedness compulsory” (Dolmage 2014, p. 22), which is seen in the categorizing of bodies as more or less ‘deficient’ against a standard of health, beauty, and/or intellect. In response, disability scholars use the phrase “Temporarily Able-Bodied” to critique the assumed binary between ability and disability; no matter one’s current bodily state, there is always the potential for encounters with disability. This skeptical phrase is part of a broader attempt to disrupt norms about physical and mental disabilities. Although the construct of disability is a relatively recent fiction (Davis 1995), these norms persist and even flourish. Such wide-ranging persistence is a rhetorical problem (Cherney 2011, Dolmage 2014), rooted in vocabularies that rest on cultural hierarchies of the body. This persistence is also an affective problem, as “bodies can get stuck depending on what feelings they get associated with” (Ahmed 2010, p. 39). Yet, if “the body is as much outside itself as inside itself—webbed in its relations” (Gregg and Seigworth 2010, p. 3), how does affect theory make space to better recognize the bodies and abilities that have always existed? What affective relationalities currently circulate among disabled bodies (Goodley, et al. 2017), caregiver bodies (Nishida 2017), and bodies that observe? And what new “ethics of relation” (Manning 2013, p. 153) might affect theory facilitate among bodies of various abilities? In addition to investigating the construction of disability as it emerges in popular representations, this panel is also concerned with parsing where affect/s contribute to dominant norms about disability, provide subversive or alternative understandings of the body, or help us invent new ways of being in the body.
Researchers invested in normality, embodiment, trauma, illness, movement, queer theory, and disability studies will find a variety of entry points to this panel. Papers can highlight the intersection of affect and disability studies as they emerge in research methods, pedagogy, political events, mass media, performance, writing practices, digital spaces, and/or rhetoric. Alternative presentation formats, such as performances or digital compositions, are welcomed.
- What might affect theory contribute to disability studies’ current foci? And vice versa?
- What affective experiences move beyond the able/disabled binary and connect a range of bodily practices?
- Where might affect itself be disabling?
- What are the affective ethics that mark research from within, around, or beside disability?
- What pedagogical structures contribute to a nuanced understanding of disability, and what affects motivate and circulate within these structures?
- Affect and temporalities of the body, e.g. crip time
- Affect and neurodiversity
- Affect and the construction of ableism
- Affect and accessible spaces
- Affects of adaptive technology
- Disabilities and sexualities
- Authenticity and performances of disability
- Dance and disability
- Writing while disabled
- Vocabularies for researching disability and ability
Nathan Snaza and Kay Gordon
More than any other current in cultural theory, affect theory is engaged in thinking through the complexities of education, and indeed affect theory may offer a set of concepts and axioms for offering a theory of education that dramatically reframes it away from Enlightenment problematics of cognition, learning outcomes, measurability, and teleological development. We might chart existing work on affect and education by plotting it along two axes: one moving from classrooms within institutions of education toward the multiform social or cultural sites in which learning takes place; the second moving from understanding affect as an approximate synonym for emotion toward ways of accounting for impersonal and nonconscious relations.
Within classrooms, affect theorists like Megan Boler and Megan Watkins have challenged us to think about how emotions are not only inseparable from cognitive or conceptual learning, they also provide the conditions of possibility for such learning. This allows us to reframe conceptual learning as an effect of affective education, and to consider how the affective realm may well be the most crucial force in what are often called “achievement gaps.” That is, we can think about how classroom spaces and curricular contents feel different to different students, and imagine pedagogical strategies for intervening in educational inequality that modulate such feelings (this is one way to analyze debates about “safe spaces”). This way of framing it already points toward the impersonal, toward the way the “atmosphere” of any given space is directly educative (as Teresa Brennan might say). Joining with work in speculative realism, “thing theory,” and even American pragmatist claims that “environment” is what educates (as John Dewey puts it), focusing on the impersonal and nonhuman agencies at play in scenes of education enables us to calibrate our politics toward educational spaces and what Sara Ahmed calls the politics of “orientation”: how do classrooms, schools, university campuses, and online environments become more or less “within reach” of various participants? What kinds of architecture, art, and habitation could emerge that would transform how various spaces distributed bodies, attention, and relation?
This question moves us away from spaces within educational institutions to all of the milieux in which study happens (to use Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s term). To take the emotion-focused side first, we have to consider what Rebecca Wanzo has called “the deadly fight over feelings” that we see in public discourses around racialized state violence. In our post-fact moment, politics are inseparable from what Michelle Murphy calls “pedagogies of feeling.” If affects both educate us, and can be themselves educated, how might we reconceptualize public pedagogies and political action? This may require moving to the other end of the spectrum, taking up how the nonhuman materialities of media, public spaces, and the institutions shape our bodies, attention, perception, and imagination.
Within this stream, we invite papers that take up relations between education and affects that could be plotted anywhere along these axes, but we especially welcome papers that show how education as a problematic allows us to bring varieties of affect theory together in pragmatic and inventive ways.
Elizabeth A. Wilson
Over three days in November 1975, a variety of activists, academics and artists gathered at Columbia University under the rubric “Schizo Culture.” In attendance: Ti Grace Atkinson, William Burroughs, John Cage, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Felix Guattari, R. D. Laing. Up for discussion: cinema, prisons, asylum, gay liberation, radical therapy, psychoanalysis and schizoanalysis, feminism. The event space was boisterous: “Fights erupted in the audience, schedules broke down, talks were heckled and booed, and the speakers themselves argued constantly, changed the conference format, and upstaged and chased one another from the podium” (David Morris “Schizo-Culture in Its Own Voice” p. 204)
While publications from this event (Semiotexte, 3.2, 1978; Schizo Culture: The Event) describe a furious intensity, the affects and affectivity that structured the event’s political and conceptual claims remain under-theorized by the participants. This stream of panels inquires into the affective infrastructures of early work on liberation, gender and sexual radicalism, anti-psychiatry, radical psychoanalysis (and radical critiques of psychoanalysis), and the politics of madness, in the US and elsewhere. The panels will bring contemporary work on affectivity to bear on the politics of radicalism, revolution and madness that traversed academic and public spaces, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. How was conceptual space bent by these thinkers and activists? How was radical feeling reconfigured?
The panels will be organized to:
- showcase current thinking and archival work that pays attention to affectivity in moments of radicalism, revolution and madness;
- accentuate the experimentation that mark this period of affective and political struggle;
- pay special attention to the disciplinary or discursive locations of radical critique (e.g., the differences between psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis);
- illustrate how the affective-conceptual encounters of radicality and madness might contribute to affect studies in the present moment.
The goal is not conceptual synthesis between papers and panels; rather the wager is that close attention to differences, disjunctions and break downs will remake the conceptual space of our affect theories today.
Possible topics for this stream:
- queerness and madness
- blackness and madness
- the politics of psychosis
- radical feminisms
- mad genders
- radical psychologies and psychotherapies, anti-psychiatry, political psychoanalysis, and radical critiques of psychoanalysis
- Insane Liberation Front
- incarceration, asylum and de-institutionalization
- anti-capitalism and communism
- the affects of Oedipus and anti-Oedipus
- the clinic and experimentations in treatment
- stigma and deviance
- the Goldwater ruling
- the affects of Millett, Chesler, Firestone, Solanas, Laing, Esterson, Cooper, Hocquenghem, Mieli…
Michael Richardson and Kerstin Schankweiler
This stream responds to the vitality and inescapable affectivity of witnessing today. We live in “an era of becoming a witness” (Givoni 2011), one in which the modes, forms, capacities and potentials of bearing witness are rapidly changing. New devices, cameras and sensors make possible the transmission and circulation of testimony, setting veracities of experience on a collision course with post-truth culture. Police body cameras, smartphones, live streaming platforms, social media’s democratisation of voices and lethal drone strike footage uploaded to YouTube: these and countless other new sites and techniques of witnessing feed into the resurgent activism of Black Lives Matter, the street protests of Morocco and the #MeToo movement. Yet older forms of witnessing also remain vibrant and find new avenues for expression and circulation. Now more than ever, corporeal and technological practices, tools and techniques of witnessing are increasingly co-composed: entangling, converging and diverging in unexpected ways to make space – potentially – for change.
Witnessing is always affective: it insists on the intensive relationality of the witness and the witnessed. To bear witness means not only giving an account of experience, event or happening, but making it accessible to others: of affecting and being affected. Witnessing is always on the brink of becoming political, of shifting from the moment of the event to its proliferation through the body politic (Massumi 2015). To bear witness is to be brought within the intersection of the political and the ethical, yet it is also to be affectively entangled in webs of relations, materialities and matterings (Gregg & Seigworth 2010). The capacity of media to generate, circulate and modulate affect (Gibbs 2001, Dean 2010, Papacharissi 2014) means that the economies of meaning within which witnessing takes place are also increasingly affective, transitory and contested. All this has consequences for what witnessing does, for the production of veracity and the formation of witnessing communities.
Affective witnessing makes space for change, for bodies and politics and possibilities that are otherwise obscured, for voices and stories and cultures that might be silenced or oppressed or simply unheard. Bearing witness means becoming responsible to an event (Peters 2001). Witnessing can be mediated and immediate, intimate and distant, commonplace and extraordinary, but it also entails an intensity that can be contagious, or change in time, or take on a life of its own. Unfolding on social media, witnessing is an escapably collective and relational practice of space-making: forming communities, provoking further testimonies, producing co-witnesses.
This stream seeks proposals that address the intersection of affect and witnessing. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
Politics, Activism, Change
- Race and witnessing
- Affect, witnessing and the making of spaces for activism
- Affect, testimony and political conflict
- Affective witnessing as a response to post-truth politics
Communities, Transmissions, Mediations
- Viral testimonies and affective contagion
- Image testimonies
- Making spaces for affective communities of witnessing
- Non- and posthuman witnessing
Temporality, Milieu, Everyday
- Affective textures of everyday witnessing
- Witnessing affective atmospheres and ephemeral events
- Temporalities of affective witnessing
- Witnessing’s intensive milieus
This stream explores how the orientations of affect might make space for alternative conceptions of feminism’s narratives, methods, and temporalities. It draws from the productive dialogue that has emerged between feminist and affect studies especially in the new millennium, and attends to the discursive politics that shape the stories (Hemmings 2005, 2011) by which feminism has come to be known. The focus of this stream is twofold, and attempts to trace the affinities between its concurrent, overlapping lines of inquiry as follows. Alongside scholars such as Hemmings, Ahmed (2010, 2012), and Wiegman (2010, 2012, 2016), it first invites a self-reflexive gaze at how affect has saturated and sustained certain trajectories that compose the institutions of feminist thought, and in turn seeks to advance new perspectives on critical feminist praxis. Second, in following the work of scholars such as Browne (2014), Cvetkovich (2003, 2012), Freeman (2010), Hesford (2013), Holland (2012), Love (2007), and Scott (2011), it examines the imbrications of affect and time in the organization of feminist histories and knowledges. It continues to reveal the points of tension marking the structuring temporalities of feminism, and presents a diverse array of accounts that might extend the affective life of feminist time.
This stream welcomes papers that carve out space for contemporary modes of engaging with the affective imaginary of feminism. It uncovers the affective infrastructure behind dominant frameworks of feminism, and the transformative potential of affect itself for generating new ways of thinking and reading the multiplicity of feminist discourse. Here, the discussion is further opened to the affective temporalities of feminism that call into question the exclusionary parameters of feminist historiography. It draws on the inevitable centrality of affect for rethinking the pasts, present, and futures of feminism. This stream makes ethical and political interventions into existing feminist paradigms by being committed to perspectives that have traditionally been elided by liberal Western epistemologies. As such, it is particularly interested in scholarship that centers on decolonizing, transnational, or queer feminisms, and encourages the interdisciplinary insight that can be gleaned from the broadly defined fields of the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
Potential topics for this stream include, but are not limited to,
The mobilizations, or (re)orientations, of affect in:
- Approaches to decolonizing feminist thought
- Thinking comparative or global feminisms
- Theorizing queer feminisms
- Nonhegemonic modalities of feminism
- Counter-narratives of feminist theory
- New interdisciplinary frames of feminist theory
- The politics of feminist critique and knowledge production
- Practices of institutional/academic feminism
- Feminist pedagogical praxis
- New ways of ‘reading’ feminism
- Emerging feminist methodologies
- Feminist reconsiderations of historiography
- Genealogies and legacies of feminism
- The time or temporalities of feminist thought
- Feminism and its futures
- Feminist archival practices
- Feminist revolutions and cultures of protest
Jack Z. Bratich and Stevphen Shukaitis
What affects circulate within the undercommons today (Harney & Moten 2014)?
This stream proposes to inquire into the relation between affective spaces and aesthetics in the construction of forms of collective intelligence and subjectivities, particularly in the ways this relation is worked with to expand the commonly understood realm of political action. It will explore processes of affective composition through which fleeting and ephemeral relations and performance are involved in what George Katsiaficas describes as “engaging aesthetic rationality in the process of political transformation, of turning politics into art, everyday life into an aesthetically governed domain.” (2001: 310) This is what Nick Thoburn terms a “minor politics” (2003): one that is not based upon calling forth an already existing identity or position, but rather a politics based on a continual intensive and affective engagement of constant self-institution.
“Affects & Collective Practices of the Undercommons” proposes to explore the relation of affective relations and aesthetics in the construction and operation of formations of collective intelligence and subjectivity, particularly when these forms are brought about in a way intended to expand and modulate understood spaces for political action. These relations and their affectivity embody and express the movement of the social imaginary, or the constant process of becoming: what Raoul Vaneigem referred to as the revolution of everyday life. Everyday life and forms of political action residing in it, whether unseen or encoded in a hidden transcript, exists as a privileged location for political analysis and action precisely because it is where forms of collective intelligence, creativity, and social wealth are manifested.
The everyday manifestations and embodiments of collective imagination and intelligence through collective practices take part in the movement of this transformation of subjectivities. Forms of self-determining community and sociality, which have been understood and theorized as creating the possibility for exodus from relations of domination and the creation of other relations within the present, is premised upon working through, and extending these relations, intensities, and experiences.
“Affects & Aesthetics of the Undercommons” will explore the multiple fields and paths where these relations, intensities, and modulations of collective subjectivities are expressed and transformed through aesthetic expression and movement. This fleeting and ephemeral realm, one of both improvisation and ritual that Amendant Hardiker and Miekal And characterize as the space of the anartistic (1995) provides a unique and valuable entrance point for understanding and theorization of the relation of mind, culture, and collective imagination in constant movement.
Potential topics/possible intersections including but not limited to:
- Infrapolitics & creative subversion
- Black radicalism and genealogies
- Experimental education & nomadic pedagogy
- Creating spaces within and against institutions
- Autonomous spaces & protocols
- Study & Sociality, Convivial Research
- Infrastructure & Logisticality
- Performativy of/in the Commons
What does gender feel like? Debates about transgender often hinge on questions of authenticity and definition, what it means to be a man or a woman or neither, what are the criteria and who decides. Trans narratives are often implicitly affective, relying on invocations of what it feels like to be (or be drawn to) a certain gender or to be (in) a body that demands recognition and/or reshaping. Indeed, as Lucas Crawford observes, the medical definition of transgender in the DSM-V is almost purely affective: “what was formerly known as ‘gender identity disorder’ is, as of May 2013, officially known as ‘gender dysphoria,’ or, gender feelings that are difficult to bear” (Crawford, 165). These gender feelings – the “what it feels like” of gender – are too often un- or under-theorized, taken for granted as an internal pathology of the individual. Affect theory offers a way to think more expansively and generously about the “what it feels like” of gender without sacrificing any of gender’s multiple dimensions as a social and individual, discursive and material, political and personal phenomenon.
This stream invites submissions that explore and theorize transgender affectively, interrogating the political nature of the gender feelings individualized by the DSM. Thinking affect theory and transgender together can help illuminate the nature of gender and other affective forces more generally: gender understood affectively, as a force that moves bodies and acts in/among/between them, might help navigate through the morass of oversimplifications and shed light on all genders, trans and otherwise. Submissions are especially encouraged to explore gender in relation to the other affective forces and phenomena with which it is always already intertwined, such as:
- the racialization of gender and the gendering of race
- how transgender and disability operate in and around one another
- the complexity of how gender and sexuality constitute one another
- body modifications and transmogrification
- spatial metaphors of trans- and their literalization
- trans/queer temporality
- the relation of bodily and geopolitical borders
- trans lives under neoliberal surveillance regimes
- species-crossing, cyborgs, and hybridity
Crawford, Lucas. “Woolf’s Einfühlung: An Alternative Theory of Transgender Affect.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 48.1 (March 2015), 165-181.
Robert Seesengood and Maia Kotrosits
In December of 2016, a gunman entered the Washington D.C. restaurant Comet Pizza and demanded the release of child sex slaves hidden in the restaurant’s basement for D.C.’s political elites. He was responding to an online conspiracy “Pizzagate”, an elaborate and arcane story extracted from leaked Democratic presidential campaign emails and pieced together over an array of internet social media communities.
Two powerful forces congeal in this scene: first, the extraordinary affective force of a conspiracy thinking (Jodi Dean, Aliens in America). Second, the immunity of that discourse to factual correction. This has led scholars working in the field of affect theory (Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling) to conclude that conspiracy theory is structured according to the logic of affect.
Affective approaches to conspiracy, most notably in Eve Sedgwick, reveal how both political critique and a literary “hermeneutics of suspicion” (critical readings attuned to unveiling heteronormative or patriarichical systems, for instance) though valid and valuable, traffic in a paranoid affect that distorts text and context. The e/affect of conspiracy theory is the revelry of suspicion, fused to logics of identity, empowerment, and even exhortative calls to action. Conspiracy theories are rich in shadowy others who have finally been transfixed by the arrow of truth; hence “belief” in conspiracy produces a feeling of empowerment and control (Schlegel, The Rhetoric of Conspiracy; Bilewicz, Chichocka and Soral, Psychology of Conspiracy; Brotherton, Suspicious Minds). They often carry inherent appeals to justice, self-evident moral truth, or even almost transcendent powers-that-be. They do not just reveal corrupt others, but offer an almost prophetic hope for comeuppance.
We invite papers that explore affective nature of conspiratorial thinking (particularly within political and religious systems).. What postures, dispositions, feelings, and beliefs underwrite both conspiracy theories of varying sorts and the readings of the world and the powers that they inhabit or structure?
Though generally interested in the intersection(s) of affect and conspiracy, we are particularly interested in how the categories of religion, politics and conspiracy, particularly those that examine the ways their affective parameters interface with, and rewrite, systems of power. Further, we are interested in the way that conspiracy thinking construct “realities,” generate new worlds and systems, and generate a sense of significance. Conspiracy, is a discourse aimed at a particular configuration of vivid, highly engaged emotions—fear, exhilaration, and rage. These feelings are what conspiracy theorists and in a variety of other meaning-generative systems (religion, politics, mythology, apocalyptic, etc.). In ways, our world is at times overly meaningful and complex thing that impartially crushes individuals beneath its wheel, and the only escape left for “ordinary” people is to unmask and resist.
We are interested in the ways affects of conspiracy thinking help us sort potential meanings and construct a (apocalyptic?) glimpse of the reality behind reality, of the “really real” at work in the cosmos.
Possible topics for the stream include, but are not limited to:
- Religious rhetoric and/as conspiracy rhetoric
- The affects of anti-Semitism (ancient and modern)
- Affect, conspiracy thinking and political systems
- Apocalyptic and conspiracy as (affective) world creation
- Satan as the paradigmatic conspiracy figure
- Jews, Illuminati and Reptillians – the reve(a)lry of hidden Powers
- Conspiracy, apocalyptic and the affects of horror
- Conspiracy, affect and militarism
- “Seeing things”: affect, conspiracy and vision
- Affect, conspiracy and the exegesis of ordinary life
- American survivalist cults and collectives and affective, religious rhetoric
- The affect, and conspiracy, of/in immigration
- Apocalyptic and conspiracy as modes of discovery
The spatiality of music is an area ripe for research. Spatiality refers to many things: relations (in physical spaces) between the musicking human bodies of performers and listeners, the sonorous spaces of performance environments, the materialities of instruments and other mediating technologies, the (conspicuous) non-presence of bodies in acousmatic contexts. All of these themes can be animated through affect studies. To think in terms of affect means, in the first place, to turn away from representationalist or otherwise mediating images of thought, toward the immediacy of relationality. Flows of affects constitute capacious spaces where encounters play out, forms interact, bodies impinge on one another, and meanings proliferate.
The ways in which musical sounds affect us (and we them) also invite new ways to think about how affect works; how it is that bodies can impinge affectively on one another. Sound studies has made great strides toward developing a deeper understanding of affect theory in general, as Marie Thompson’s groundbreaking recent work on the affects and ethics of sound in space makes clear. This stream is a invitation for music studies to follow and extend some of the promising lines of inquiry—especially around the relationship between sound, affect, and space and place— that sound studies has opened. For example, consider collective music-making contexts. These are capacious time-spaces, bigger on the inside, or, better, disrupting notions of inside and outside; sound, like affect, does not respect borders in the same way that other materialities seem to need to. Sounds-as-bodies inhabit and engender spaces within which physical bodies—human as well as post- and non-human—dwell. Musical sound expresses proliferating pasts, transversal co-presents, and virtual futures while all the while contributing to the constitution of the very bodies producing and receiving them.
Another way to say this is that musical sounds are produced by human and post-human, relationally constituted bodies. Once enacted, however, a musical sound becomes a body in its own right, to affect and be affected by. Several bundles of questions emerge from this turn. First, what is at stake in treating sound as a body, as an agential participant in a politics of context-formation? Second, how can sound lead us to an affective account of trans-subjective relationality that enables new or newly-diffracted politics of human, post-human, and non-human interaction? Third, what kinds of sounds facilitate what kinds of affective spaces in what kinds of contexts? Fourth, how can this transform the way we theorize musical meaning: where does musical meaning reside; how is it created or enacted; what happens, affectively, when people make music together? Fifth, how can an affective turn help us imagine ways to analyze interaction: a key theme in both musicological and critical improvisation studies?
- sound as material, sound as body (sound as physical quality, sound as agential actor)
- sound in space (engaging sound through phenomenological or embodied cognition perspectives)
- sound and movement
- theorizing the temporality of space and the spatiality of time through sound and affect
- (musical) sound production and posthumanism
- affect and music-interaction studies
- affect and critical improvisation studies
- performativity, affect, and processes of subjectification
- sound’s role in theorizing political relationality through affective spaces
- affect and the constitution of acoustic ecologies
- (musical) sound and the constitution of affective communities
Nathaniel A. Rivers
This stream asks for contributions that explore what sorts of digitally-mediated practices and platforms allow us to tell. To tell a story is to both reckon and relate. One tells both coming and going. The anthropologist Tim Ingold (2015) writes, “Someone who knows well is able to tell. They can tell not only in the sense of being able to recount stories of the world, but also in the sense of having a finely tuned perceptual awareness of their surroundings” (162, emphasis added). This telling makes space—an in-between—that renews the affective capacities of space. This anthropological account of telling resonates with the study of affect. Indeed, Ingold’s version of telling echoes Greg Seigworth and Mellissa Gregg’s articulation of affect. “Affect arises in the midst of in-betweeness: in the capacities to act and be acted upon” (1). We tell because we can tell. We have all probably said at some point, “I can tell that you’re upset,” or, more environmentally, “I can tell that it’s about to rain.” Telling in this instance is a practice of discerning. To tell is to be attuned to what is going on. We have also all promised, “I will tell you about later,” or even enticed, “do I have a story to tell to you.” Telling is here to describe or even denote. It is important to note that in poker a tell is an unconscious physical gesture that gives one away to others. To have a tell is to physically disclose something about your state of mind or at least the quality of your hand. Tells and telling attune and articulate us to one another and to the world at large, and they do so even before we have even begun to tell.
This stream wants to channel modes of telling “in the midst of in-betweeness.” Affect studies is, to a large extent, already flush with many such modes. The writings of Kathleen Stewart (2007), Ann Cvetkovich (2012), and Jenny Rice (2012) are touchstones in this regard. But where and how else might we create opportunities to tell more and again that include but possibly preclude the discursive and/or the story? Tuning into digital media (i.e., mass media, social media, and mobile, or locative, media), this stream asks for contributions that explore what sorts of digitally-mediated practices and platforms allow us to tell. Participants are asked to work within one or more of the aspects of telling described above—telling as discerning, telling as describing, and telling as disclosing—and to articulate how these versions of tell/ing take place through, alongside, or even against specific, digital media. For instance, how do locative media such as Google Maps and Yelp tell? How do augmented reality games like Ingress and Pokemon Go tell otherwise? What sorts of telling practices emerge across social media/networking platforms such as Twitter, Grindr, and Weibo? What collective forms of telling are told through the proliferation of sensors and sensing technologies fueling the emergencies of so-called smart city? Working through a digital medium, these aspects of telling might very well run together and generate strange new tellings. As contributions sense the contours of particular tells and telling, they should ever attend to how particular media prescribe the “us” that tells: what bodies have access to which spaces and how does access to space, in turn, affect capacities to tell? Questions of access can be pursued through the vectors such as race, dis/ability, technical capacity/debility, economic resources, trans-/gender, and indigeneity.
Janae Sholtz and Aline Wiame
We seek to understand how processes of creativity and thought happen and what it means to engage affect, especially in light of the paradoxical situation in which the subject is an outcome of these affective engagements. What would it mean to intensify the affect or participate more fully in affective engagement and how does this lead to a transformation in philosophical concepts about and concerning thinking itself? How does it lead to the formation of new subjectivities and what affects are needed in light of the political and environmental crises of our time?
We are interested in proposals that highlight thinkers who are interested in the processes of creativity and thought, including, but not limited to figures like Deleuze and Guattari, Nietzsche, Whitehead, Bergson, and James and the central role of affect and affectivity in these processes. For Deleuze and Guattari, for instance, affects are not the inner productions of an individuated person. While feelings are subjective, affects are pre-individual and a-subjective. The “affective stratum” is a pre-individual, virtual field that functions as a potential of actualization for ideas and bodies. Thus, the specific nature of affect, and its centrality to experience, could call us to rethink the nature of thinking as well as the nature and sources of creativity. Crucially, affects taking us into a milieu of exteriority are the condition of creativity and, more generally, of thinking itself. This relation of exterior bodies and thought has several philosophical advocates, the Stoics, Spinoza, and, of course, Deleuze and Guattari, but one can also think of ways that new materialism, feminism, and posthumanist accounts have contributed to the re-emergence of the generative capacities of matter and the renegotiation of the subject in light of exterior milieu.
The articulation of creativity within the affective stratum also may lead to a new conception of politics, as it emphasizes the priority of non-individual and non-human elements in the shaping of bodies, thoughts and political spaces. The a-signifying and rupturing experience of affects can be a means to transform political trajectories is by disrupting hegemonic discourses and ways of thinking about human/world interactions. Creating then goes against normative definitions of what a human should be, challenging humans to expose themselves to the forces of the creative, to become vulnerable to the outside which in actuality holds the potential to their own transformation. The creation, perpetuation, and intensification of affects can potentially dismantle the stratifications of consumer and control societies and expose those mechanisms that imprison the powers of life.
- The processes of creativity and relation of affect and thought in philosophical figures such as Deleuze and Guattari, Nietzsche, Whitehead, Bergson, James, Spinoza, Barad, Haraway, etc.
- Philosophical trajectories that highlight the relationship between affect and thought and/or emphasizing or developing an account of creativity
- Invocation of affect in philosophies/philosophers of immanence
- Reassessing the sources and meaning of creativity vis-à-vis exterior, impersonal model of affect
- Implications of positing the affective stratum for advancing issues of new materialisms, the non-human and post-humanism
- Non-individual affects in the history of philosophy as impetuses for political transformation, including possibilities for critical analysis within feminism or decolonial discourses
- Specific modalities of affect; “what can an affect do” and “what affects do we need”
- Minor/resistant uses of affect versus propagandized or capitalist appropriation of affect
Sharday Mosurinjohn and Khadija Coxon
Trafficking in “intensities,” affect extends beyond “the meanings ascribed to … social, embodied, energetic processes particular to specific cultural moments … by participants and observers” to get at “the social, material, life-fueling buzz itself” (Supp-Montgomerie 2015, 343). Yet affect is so capacious as to spawn space for the less than vital – the vestiges, spandrels, and negative space of material and embodied vibration: flat affect, detachment, and other contemporary post-melodramatic subjectivity (Berlant 2011); feminist killjoys, unhappy queers, and melancholic migrants (Ahmed 2010). It makes room for indifference to religion, traditional communities of practice, and transcendental meanings (Lee 2015), as well as for neuroatypical and non-human/animal experience (Manning 2016).
Indeed, the space of disaffect has given rise to broad inter- and multi-disciplinary contemplations of boredom, disorientation, and estrangement. These range from studies of digital and addiction-like disengagement in temporally accelerated contexts of secularity and neoliberalism (e.g., Gardiner 2014; Petit 2015; Mosurinjohn 2016; Kingwell 2016) to attention to the way global capitalism systemically produces affective dislocation for the economically and epistemically marginalized (Tousignant 2013; O’Neill 2017). Framing intensity as “more than,” Michael Petit (2015) refers to disaffect as “less than.” Spaces of the latter are far from empty or finished – they are cavernous and ripe for exploration and extension.
This stream invites interdisciplinary scholarship concerning spaces of disaffect, encouraging topics such as:
- How and where to think with spaces of “less than”?
- In what ways does affect habitually pair with negation? How does this incline or disincline turns to affect theory – pulsating with excess – as an approach to disaffect?
- How does affect theory engage with disaffective personal and cultural moods, e.g., boredom?
- What role does disaffect play in the emergence of non-traditional cultural forms and identities marked by the privative, like non-religion (eg. SBNR; atheisms; secularities) and the non-human (eg. animals; neuroatypical people; neuroqueerness).
- How do digital technology and info-capital produce and circulate disaffect?
- How can “less than” illuminate questions about the instability of subjectivity?
- How can spaces of (dis)affect engage with everyday aesthetics and aesthetics of the banal?
- Ethnographic studies of banality, boredom, and other kinds of disaffect within economically and epistemically marginalized and postcolonial spaces.
Ahmed, Sara. 2010. The Promise of Happiness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Barad, Karen. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Berlant, Lauren. 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
–––. n.d. Supervalent Thought. https://supervalentthought.com/about/.
Gardiner, Michael. 2014. “The Multitude Strikes Back? Boredom in an Age of Semiocapitalism.” New Formations 82: 29-46.
Kingwell, Mark. 2016. “Bored, Addicted, or Both: How We Use Social Media Now.” In Carlos Prado, Ed., Social Media and Your Brain, pp. 15-37. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Lee, Lois. 2015. Recognizing the Non-Religious: Reimagining the Secular. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Manning, Erin. 2016. The Minor Gesture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Mosurinjohn, Sharday. 2016. “Overload, Boredom and the Aesthetics of Texting.” In Michael E. Gardiner and Julian Jason Haladyn, Eds., The Boredom Studies Reader, pp. 143-56. New York: Routledge.
O’Neill, Bruce. 2017. The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Supp-Montgomerie, Jenna. 2015. “Affect and the Study of Religion.” Religion Compass 9/10: 335–345, 10.1111/rec3.12166.
Tousignant, Noemi. 2013. “Broken Tempos: Of Means and Memory in a Senegalese University Laboratory.” Social Studies of Science 43 (5): 729-53.
This Conference Stream invites discussions on humiliation—on what it means to humiliate; on what humiliation tells us about the kinds of people we have become; on the kinds of power that take effect in humiliation; on the cultural predicament of partaking in the humiliation of others; and, on the difficulties and possibilities of recovery and resistance—for once humiliated, one may never recover their status. If traumatic shame cannot be transformed into knowledge (Woodward), we may consider humiliation as the structure of an affect that does not dissipate.
The Conference Stream is particularly drawn to the exploration of humiliation as a discursive and affective structure, for example, through taking up engagement with the following approaches:
- humiliation as governmentality & reregulation (Gill; Hall; Skeggs)
- humiliation and normativity/normality (Foucault; Povinelli)
- humiliation as scenes of subjection (Butler; Hartman; Woodward)
- humiliation as orientation and atmosphere (Ahmed; Anderson)
- humiliation with and without genre; as form, aesthetic & structure of feeling (Berlant; Brinkema; Ngai; Williams)
- humiliation as (pre)mediation (Chouliaraki; Grusin; Richardson)
- humiliation as affective script and cluster (Sedgwick; Seigworth; Tomkins)
The cultural politics of humiliation works upon the painful and twisted dovetailing of torture and mediated practices of image making—witness the recent literature on Abu Ghraib and reality television (Cross & Littler; Feldman; Skeggs & Wood). We see this too in the impasse of political irony for entertainment (Black Mirror 2007-; South Park 1997-). Humiliation is imperative to much televisual drama, creating plot and character distinctions, particularly where class, gender/sexuality and race privilege are concerned (Gossip Girl 2007-12). The inundated performance of status via the social media culture of “compulsory status” (Rich) recalibrates the stakes: all is to be lost and gained in the impressions we might attempt to manage but ultimately give off (Papacharissi; Goffman).
Meanwhile, human rights are up for negotiation in discourses that incessantly politicise minority bodies: we are only ever one step removed from the capacity that institutions have to humiliate us (harassment, euthanasia, abortion, indefinite detention, and so on). We find evidence of humiliation’s structure across a multiplicity of governmental and reregulatory media cultural sites (Gill; Hall). In Western liberal democracies, legislative change further entrenches welfare use in a culture of humiliating dependency. I, Daniel Blake (Loach 2016) offers a welcome if distressing illustration of humiliation’s mediation of ‘slow death’ (Berlant): the UK government compels those out-of-work to apply for jobs where there are none, for instance. There are myriad examples (BasicsCard, benefits’ eligibility tests, and so on). Suicides are increasingly linked to cuts in benefits: news media journalists and bloggers alike track in never-enough detail so-called ‘welfare reform deaths’. This is humiliation from which there is no return.
Could there be a more capacious affective and discursive structure than humiliation? We all find ourselves there, at some point (#MeToo): we have all had our sense of pride and dignity injured. For sure, historical injuries have been transformed into critical epistemologies that both wed us to and liberate us from inherited speaking positions, as well as their attachments (Berlant; Brown). Yes, queer theory’s literature on shame brought a spaciousness to these otherwise turgid terms, evoking a tenderness and humility—expressed in spite of all that humiliates us. Some of the most tactile writing is that which explores shame (Munt; Probyn; Sedgwick)—the ‘backwards’ blush of our deepest feelings (Love).
Fiona Murray and Bonnie Lenore Kyburz
Participants at the Capacious conference surely know affective intensities as experiences radiating from textual encounters, with amplified effects for visual texts (Massumi; 2009, p. 27). Affective intensities are of special interest for Rhetoric and for that dimension of inquiry that worries political and pedagogical efforts toward the promotion of textual encounters (production, consumption, immersion) that are both engaging and ethical (Rice, 2005). Our vital rhetorical work in academia compels us to teach beyond academic discourse, and instead to teach for academic, civic, personal, and professional lives. Indeed, Massumi (2015) writes that affects “are our angle of participation in processes larger than ourselves” (p.6). This stream takes these words as motivation, inviting experimentation and exploration into new modes of activism and political participation. With the emerging rhetoric of right-wing populism, and its undercurrent of racism, sexism and general dogmatism, new figureheads (Schapira & Montgomery, 2017) have emerged as physical manifestations of this movement. In response, there have been recent various collective group protests such as Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo campaign, and the 2016 #WomensMarch. These recent masses and viralities and the rise of new populisms around the world provide material for possible imaginings.
Possible Imaginings / Subtopics:
- What is a contemporary activism? How have the interrelated 2016 election, Brexit, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and other affectively-charged political events materialized (un)ethical media productions? Can we #resist and learn new modes of activism from effective yet often troubling productions? What is a contemporary activist ethics?
- Fake news? How new is it? What can we learn from its re-animating force of late?
- Feminisms. Is the affective force of #MeToo and #WomensMarch sustainable? How has media coverage and circulation of these events occurred, for better or for worse? How can affects associated with these forceful collectives be sustained and effectively circulated toward lasting action?
- How does affect (theory) make room for retrieving a sense of balance in the wake of turbulent media streams? What sorts of emerging media practices might compel us to respond in affectively intense languaging events that deny the binary (likely motivating the amplified effects/affects) and thereby short-circuit or otherwise foreclose the evolving extremes? What role for the university in this work?
- What kinds of bodyings does the university — and culture, at large — need, and what would happen if we co-composed with them in a way that made a true difference? (Manning, 2017)
- What kind of new sites could be produced with new modes of participation?
- How can we teach from a space of affective potential when we are seething in the light of the daily fronts to decency and the democratic (dream) project?
This stream aims to widen the space of hereness (Brydon, 2007) creating a capacious site of possibility where different modes of participation and different disciplines are welcomed. It invites difference that is deeply felt. This stream seeks to create, as Massumi (2017) writes, “collective platforms for experimentation … In other words, we can experiment with techniques that bring people together … What forces them to think, what forces them to act, their passions, their techniques, their competencies, all of that brought as a kind of gift, not to others, so much as to their interaction, to the event that’s brewing between” (p. 110).
Brydon, D. (2007) Dionne Brand’s Global intimacies: Practising affective citizenship. University of Toronto Quarterly. Vol 76 (3) pp.990-1006.
Manning, E. (2017, May 10). “Erin Manning: Performances of neurotypicality, acts of neurodiversity.” Retrieved from https://p4-hsprbvplteqvm-3uq2puuv4qn6khtg-if-v6exp3-v4.metric.gstatic.com/v6exp3/iframe.html.
Massumi, B. (2002) Parables for the virtual: Movement, affect, sensation. Duke University Press.
Massumi, B. (2015) The politics of affect. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Massumi, B. (2017). The principle of unrest: Activist philosophy in the expanded field. Open Humanities Press. Retrieved from http://www.openhumanitiespress.org/books/titles/the-principle-of-unrest/.
Rice, J. (20015). Unframing models of public distribution: From rhetorical situation to rhetorical ecologies. Rhetoric Society Quarterly. 35; 4. pgs 5-24.
Schapira, M., & Montgomery, J. (2017, August 10). “Stefano Harney (part i).” Full stop: Reviews, interviews, marginalia. Retrieved from http://www.full-stop.net/2017/08/08/interviews/michael-schapira-and-jesse-montgomery/stefano-harney-part-1/.
Tony D. Sampson
For the most part affect theory has enthusiastically welcomed the neurosciences into its fold. Through the work of Libet (1985), Damasio (1995), and LeDoux (2003), for example, affect theorists have challenged mainstream anthropocentricism in the humanities, upsetting the stability of a model of human cognition previously assumed to hold sway over the perceptible world. As follows, the brain sciences have helped to support an alternative perspective in which humans arrive late to consciousness since their brains take time to build a cognitive reaction. Immediate experience of consciousness is, as such, a backdated illusion and just one of many responses to the dynamics of the exteriority of experience. As Gibbs (2010) argues, there can be no “pure cognition… uncontaminated by the richness of sensate experience, including affective experience” (p. 200). Indeed, according to affect theory, thinking is not at all limited to the thought inside the brain. On one hand, somatic markers act as a kind of corporeal thinking in which emotion becomes a capture of affect in consciousness. On the other, a new materialist affect theory extends the image of thought to a wider remit of incorporeal sense making including nonhumans, self-organizing matter, assemblages and events. The analytical focus has thus shifted away from conventional cognitive processes (perception, memory, representation) to the significance of such things as imperceptibility (Grosz, 2003), precognition and nonrepresentation (Thrift, 2007), premediation (Grusin, 2010), processual incorporeality (Gregg and Seigworth, 2010) and discognition (Shaviro, 2015).
There has, nevertheless, been an inevitable backlash against affect theory’s cosying up to the brain sciences. Wetherall (2012), for example, argues that Thrift and Massumi take the wrong message from neuroscience (p. 61). Her work does not simply reject neuroscience, but instead uses it to (re)personalize affect and renegotiate it alongside discourse, representation and meaning. Similarly, Hayles (2017) has recently drawn on the same neuroscientific resources as affect theory (e.g. Damasio, Libet), but argues against the Spinoza-Deleuzian overtures of new materialism and returns the brain (and its fellow cognizers) to the cognitive theoretical frame.
The neuro-affect stream welcomes provocative, inventive and speculative interventions that engage with the wide-ranging influence of the neurosciences on affect theory and related areas. It asks for submissions that engage with neuro-concepts of affect, such as the nonconscious, somatic markers, lags, mirror neurons, neuro-typicality, assemblage brains, technological nonconscious and discognition, while also addressing the numerous challenges and reinventions of affect stemming from various interventions in the humanities and social sciences.
Possible topics for the stream are not limited to the following neuros:
Neuroaffect, somatic markers, lags, mirror neurons, neuro-typicality, cognition, noncognition, discognition, consciousness, nonconsciousness, technological nonconscious, brains, microbrains, assemblage brains, temporality and space, locationism, neuroevents, neuropolitics, neuropopulism, neuro-dystopia/utopia, neurocapitalism, neuromedia, ontology, nonhumans, Anthropocene, contagion, organic and inorganic matter, assemblages, antilocationism, neurophilosophy, neurophenomenology, neuroprocess philosophy, neurocomputing, neural nets, brain-computer interfaces, neurofiction, brain-art, neuroaesthetics, neurobleedin’ everything…
Damasio, A. (1995). Descartes’ error: emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York: Penguin.
Damasio, A. (2000). The feeling of what happens: body, emotion, and the making of consciousness. London: Vintage.
Gibbs, A. (2010). After affect sympathy, Synchrony, and mimetic communication. In Gregg, M. & Seigworth, G. J. (Eds.), The affective theory reader (pp. 186-205). Durham & London: Duke University Press.
Gregg, M. & Seigworth, G. J. (2010). The affective theory reader. Durham & London: Duke University Press.
Grosz, E. (2002). A politics of imperceptibility: A response to ‘anti-racism, multiculturalism and the ethics of identification’ Philosophy and Social Criticism. 28 (4) pp. 463-472.
Grusin, R. (2010). Premediation: affect and mediality after 9/11. New York, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hayles, K. N. (2006). Traumas in code. Critical Inquiry 33(1), 136-157.
Hayles, K. N. (2017). Unthought: the power of the cognitive nonconscious. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
Karppi, T. Kahkonen, L. & Mannevuo, M. (Eds.) (2016). Affective capitalism. Ephemera (16)4 Ephemera.
LeDoux, J. (2003). The synaptic self: how our brains become who we are. New York: Penguin Books.
Libet, B. (1985). Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action. Behavioral Brain Sciences. (8)5, 29–566.
Rolls, E. T. (2012). Neuroculture: on the implications of brain science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Shaviro, S. (2015). Discognition. New York: Repeater Books.
Sampson, T. D. (2012). The Assemblage brain: sense making in neuroculture. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
Thrift, N. (2004). Remembering the technological unconscious by foregrounding knowledges of position. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 22(1), 175-190.
Thrift, N. (2007). Non-Representational theory: space, politics, affect. New York, London: Routledge.
Wetheral, M. (2012). Affect and emotion: a new social science understanding. London: Sage.
It is increasingly difficult to be insensate to ecological instabilities, degradations, and crises. Intense storms, massive wildfires, long droughts, rising seas, and mass species extinctions are hints of possible futures. Meanwhile, racialized and indigenous peoples have long endured assaults on their immediate environments, as seen at Standing Rock, Flint, Michigan, and the Marshall Islands. Anxiety, helplessness, fear, outrage, indifference, and even hope are in the air of ongoing and impending ruination. So too are novel interminglings of all sorts of beings.
This stream aims to grow better other worlds for humans and nonhumans alike by cross-pollinating affect and ecology. Affect theory is replete with resources for the study of ecology. Cruel optimism (Berlant 2011), political depression (Cvetkovich 2012), queer utopia (Muñoz 2009), and no future (Edelman 2004) may describe life under ecological distress. How do these and other affect concepts, with due reconsideration, implicate both nonhumans and humans? Sensibilities such as hyperempathy (Leong 2016) and intuition (Massumi 2015) could become increasingly widespread as ecological catastrophe looms over more horizons. How might humans and nonhumans become attuned to impending crises, subtle attritions, and the afterlives of environmental upheaval? What about more-than-human worlds could be evoked through affect-centered methods such as paranoid and reparative reading (Sedgwick 2002) and compositional theory (Stewart 2014)?
Ecology likewise can enrich affect, as it already has. Indigenous studies (Belcourt 2016, Goldberg-Hiller and Silva 2011) have called for the resurgence of human-nonhuman relations to develop an affective component to decolonization. How does a focus on ecology open greater space for affect in politics, ethics, and aesthetics? How might affect be reconceptualized through nonhuman animals, plants, minerals, water, bacteria, and plastics? Efforts to develop the generativity of affect tend to be haunted by racialized, gendered, sexualized, ableist, and colonial framings of ecology, materiality, animality, and humanity (Huang 2017; Jackson 2016; Lee 2014; Nyong’o 2015; Chen 2012). How do those frames situate and inflect the potential of affect to reassemble the human and the nonhuman through each other—if they were ever separate? Appreciation and concern for more-than-human worlds have led scholars to craft appropriate methods such as multispecies ethnography (Tsing, 2015; Van Dooren and Bird Rose 2016). How might ecology unsettle forms of affect inquiry while furnishing new ones?
This stream makes space for affect as it flows through fields such as African American studies, anthropology, Asian American studies, critical animal and plant studies, disability studies, eco-feminism, indigenous studies, philosophy, political theory, and queer theory. It invites work that composes new senses of and approaches to affect and ecology through the above issues, the following possibilities, and others yet:
- Feelings of the Anthropocene, Capitalocene (Moore 2015), Eurocene (Grove 2016), Chthulucene (Haraway 2016),…
- Nonhuman and multispecies emotionality
- Retheorizing the commons, assemblage, intersectionality,…
- New materialisms, vitalisms, and animisms
- Sensing slow violence (Nixon 2011), fragility (Connolly 2013), collapse,…
- Ecology and the entanglement of strands of affect (psychoanalysis, philosophies indebted to Spinoza, Whitehead, and Deleuze, cultural materialisms,…)
- The more-than-human good life
- Biopower, ontopower (Massumi 2015), and geontopower (Povinelli 2016)
- Ordinary life under longstanding or imminent ruination
- Oceanic and climatological entryways into feeling
- Affect and large scales of time (geological, cosmic,…)
- Humanisms: New, non-western, post-, in-, para- (Allewaert 2013),…
- Becoming and endurance
- Wild feelings, feeling the Wild (Halberstam 2014)
- Futurity: posthuman, queer, decolonial,…
Wendy J. Truran
“the art of loosing…Ideally life, loves, and ideas might then sit freely, for a while, on the palm of the open hand” (Eve Sedgwick)
As we cannot know affect, we are invited to consider experimental, surprising, emotional, embodied, acts of imagination in critical engagements. This stream thus ponders three broad questions circulating around reading, writing, and interpretation, that we might think of in terms of method, object, and style:
- Method: How does affect transform the ways we conceive of the reading, writing, and voicing of objects/events scenes? What methods, practices, or modes of reading and hermeneutics engage affectively?
- Object: Do we ‘know’ an aesthetic-affective object/scene when we feel/sense/experience it? How do we ‘find’ affect within/despite language?
- Style: How can affect studies write about affect effectively and affectively? Are some styles, genres, or manners of writing/voicing more affective than others?
This stream invites participants to explore what experimental forms of writing, reading, and interpretation – as objects and methods of scholarship – might be considered affective. It asks what modes/forms of engagement are made possible by affect, and what are the implications for our aesthetic, critical, and pedagogic practices?
Method, object, and style
(Method) Work on affective methodologies are ongoing. Eve Sedgwick’s method of ‘reparative reading’ makes space for interpretative practices other than the hermeneutics of suspicion. Scholars have made even more room via the ‘descriptive turn’ and, in the case of Heather Love, thick descriptions and ‘micro-sociology.’ This stream invites participants to consider how these methods might be applied imaginatively, or new methods can be imagined.
(Object) Are there certain objects that are particularly ‘sticky’ (to borrow Sara Ahmed’s term), with affect? As Lauren Berlant points out: “Aesthetics is one of the few places we learn to recognize our emotions as trained and not natural,” and as such part of the possibility of this stream would be to imagine a creative commons of objects and methods in order to bring affective discussions alive in multiple ways.
Signification, and specifically acts of language, might be the amber in which the vapor-trails of affect can be caught and held, but literary/aesthetic language – language vivified by the imagination – might offer the possibility of dynamic language, this stream invites you to explore texts that leave a sense of this affective to linger upon/within/around the body of the reader.
(Style) Leading scholars of affect, such as Kathleen Stewart, Lauren Berlant, Ann Cvetkovich have not only begun to push the boundaries of scholarly writing about affect, but are also trying to write in an affective style. What communicative performances might be said to somehow voice affect? What are the benefits and risks of such performances within academia (rather than ‘art’ for example), and are these styles available for all participants in scholarship, from undergraduates and graduates to early career scholars?
Questions & topics that contributors to this stream might address (but are in no way limited to):
- How does one identify affect in writing?
- What forms or modes (or specific texts) of aesthetic practice best capture a sense, or sensation, of affective forces?
- What modes of communication (known or yet to unfold) most closely capture a sense/sensation of un- / pre- conscious affective forces?
- What methods of reading might create textual assemblages that extend beyond the boundary of the text and the reading subject?
- What is the affective circulation between text and reader?
- What rhetorical strategies in the social and political realm evoke new forms of feeling, or best represent newly emergent political feelings.
- What role does pleasure play in affective writing/reading/interpreting?
- What rhetorical strategies or literary forms best communicate a sense of, not merely a representation of, affect?
 Kosofsky Sedgwick, Eve. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2003, p.3.
 Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004, p.11.
Helen Frost and Zeina Tarraf
In Theory from the South, Comaroff and Comaroff observe that Western Enlightenment thought has regarded the previously (and, as we would argue, presently) colonized world—often known under the rubric of the underdeveloped world, the developing world, and most recently the Global South—as a place of “parochial wisdom, of antiquarian traditions, of exotic ways” and “[a]bove all, of unprocessed data” (1). While the theoretical “Turn to Affect” (Cough 2007) can be understood as a critique of enlightenment through its rejection of the binaries between reason and feeling, or thought and emotion (Ahmed 2004; Papacharissi 2015), it has mostly drawn on genealogies of Western Philosophies including those of Bergson, Whitehead, Spinoza, Sartre, and Tomkins, to name a few. These approaches to affect have often been criticized for failing to attend to power relations and social narratives through their insistence on affect’s autonomy (Hemmings 2005, Ball 2015). Although scholars such as Sarah Ahmed have turned to Franz Fanon and Audre Lorde for alternative approaches to affect (2004), there still remains a dearth of work that considers other affective genealogies. This stream seeks to think through different imaginaries of affect in connection to the multiple axes of inequalities that structure our contemporary world.
In this vein, we invite papers that engage with critiques of familiar genealogies of affect through the perspective of the Global South, broadly conceived. We understand the Global South as a “structural-racial location” (Cultural Dynamics) that refers not only to the populations of non-Western, Southern locations, but also dispossessed/diasporic and racialized peoples in the north. What would theorizations of and discussions about affect look like from Southern, marginal, or Indigenous perspectives? How would affect theory be conceived differently if theorized from the margins?
As Kim Tallbear (2017) has argued, “Indigenous standpoints” about the vibrancy on non-human and inanimate life should be brought into conversation with the work of new materialism. According to Tallbear, a serious engagement with Indigenous ontologies not only enriches these theoretical frameworks, but also challenges destructive hierarchies. Similarly, the South African concept of ubuntu, which provides an ethics of intersubjectivity, might be a starting point for thinking of affects that do not reside solely in the individual subject. While these concepts and knowledge systems may not, and should not be available to all scholars, they make clear that the established institutional approaches do not always provide a meaningful discourse for marginalized and/or racialized perspectives. With this in mind, we ask: what are the risks of bringing theorizations of affect in conversation with non-Western knowledge systems? At the same time, we invite contributors to consider whether a re-engagement with a genealogy of thinkers from colonial, post-colonial, and critical race studies might provide new insights for a more global understanding of affective dynamics.
Rather than approaching the South “as reservoirs of raw fact,” then, we encourage contributors to consider familiar genealogies of affect theory in relation to local epistemologies, knowledge systems, and voices. This call for south-to-south dialogue seeks to open up current theorizations of affect in order to upend the north-south binary and to think more concretely about experiences of marginalization in a global context.
Potential topics including but not limited to:
- Citational practices and intersectional approaches to theorizing affect
- Affect theory in/from the Global South
- Affect of (post)conflict/colonial societies
- Ordinary Life in the Global South
- Marginalization and affect
- Affect and local/global power dynamics
- Decolonial affects, emotions, and intimacies
- Transnational circuits/flows/exchanges/economies of affect
This stream proposal aims to invite architects, designers, artists and researchers from diverse fields of theory, practice and education dealing with the creative production of affective spaces to reflect upon their critics, experiments, implementations, performances and pedagogical research in the field of affect theory — not only in terms of enriching and extending the discussion through new horizons and accommodating various rooms for theories of affect, but also providing innovative approaches at the juncture of design ecologies.
In his pioneering book from 1820s entitled “In Which Style Should We Build?” Heinrich Hübsch initiates a debate over Neo-Classical architecture that is later pursued by another milestone in theory and criticism – Hans Sedlmayr’s questioning work “Art in Crisis: The Lost Center” (1948). During the last decades of the 20th Century, critical disputes from numerous angles signaled yet another crisis in architectural theory and praxis. On one hand, influential publications like Assemblages re-structured architectural discourse and culture (following its precedent Oppositions) and, on the other hand, the work of the ANY Group with its visible worldwide impact have both transformed the ecologies of architecture via innovative debates over texts of Fredric Jameson, Bernard Tschumi, Liz Grosz and many others. In addition to those discussions – as Derridian ontology of Deconstructivism shifted into Deleuzian folds, and then to the fluidity of parametricism and the autopoiesis of form (which lost ground in the first decade of the 21st Century) architectural discourse has entered into another moment of crisis. Thus, now, as the ‘affective turn’ introduces new potentials into current architecture and design discourse and praxis. This interaction with the notion of affect reaches back to earlier times through the Spinozian understanding of the ‘body’ and its conceptualization via the mutual constitution of bodies, on behalf of representing the its impersonal, un-individuated capacities (Seyfert, 2012). Not only do the affective capacities of spatial embodiment gain importance, but so does experience with its pedagogical capacities on behalf of ecologies of teaching. This turn further introduces us –theoreticians, designers and educators alike – to the possibility of experimenting with fresh approaches to design.
This stream intends to appreciate the creative capacities of affect and the affect theory in order to generate novel milieus of production for cultural, political and performative spatialities.
Seyfert, R. 2012. “Beyond Personal Feelings and Collective Emotions: Toward a Theory of Social Affect” in Theory, Culture & Society, vol: 29, pp: 27-46. doi: 10.1177/0263276412438591
Conference Core Committee
Would a conference on affective inquiry be truly capacious if it didn’t open space for its own critique?
In the last few years especially, critiques of affect study have come from many quarters, with all sorts of rationales, staking various kinds of claims and counterclaims about affect’s study, its theories, its presuppositions, its blindspots and (in)coherences, its political valences, its critical-methodological purchase, its ultimate worthiness as a serious scholarly pursuit. This stream invites paper proposers who wish to question, redirect, subvert, undo, nudge, completely obliterate or finely target any or all of the myriad ways that affect inquiry –from its most foundational starting premises to its tiniest pinprick-like irritations – operates today. BRING IT!
Despite the jokey title of this stream, the core conference committee in all sincerity welcomes the submission of work that cares enough to both engage with affect study (affectionately, as ‘frenemies,’ and/or antagonistically, as ‘haterz’) and argue for things to be something more, something less, or something completely otherwise than the present state of affairs for affect inquiry. We really do invite a ‘ruthless criticism of everything existing’ in affect theory – critique that lodges in ways that refuse to be accommodated, ways that perhaps scramble the lines/points/planes of affect studies’ continued existence, and ways that propose options for engaging with affect radically differently or perhaps not at all. (Gulp.)
Now, just a brief taste of the range of some recent or not-so-recent critiques …
from the age-old ‘mind/body problem’ and, hence, the relation of reason and emotion – and, then, emotion’s distinction (or not) from affect that flows mightily through Ruth Leys’ “intentionality” thesis to the presumed too-easy ontological-vitalistic optimism that drives Alexander Galloway’s claim that affect theory relies upon “nature’s largess” …
from the internal (frenemies) split between affect inquiry’s social scientists and its speculative pragmatists that underwrites Margaret Wetherall’s claw back for what’s most practically deployed to Papoulias/Callard’s questioning of how the fanciful footwork of affect study often finds its stability in the ‘gifts’ of biology …
from the compositional questions about the limits and paradoxes of addressing the non-representational and the extra-/a-signifying through words and academic discourse to standard-issue (yet often entirely apt) complaints over how the dreary repetition of citational practices & critical-philosophical commonplaces simply pours affectively pressed subaltern / indigenous juiciness into always-already formed Western / Northern Hemispheric drinking vessels
from the historical framing of foundational blindspots in affect inquiry centered upon any inherently equivalent relationship between the capacity to affect and the capacity to be affected (the biopolitical critique around ‘affectability’ and ‘impressionability’ by scholars of race and/or sexuality like Denise Ferreira da Silva, Kyla Schuller, Tyrone Powers) to the persistent charges of affect’s a-politicism / its lack of ideology critique and, thus, its assumed acquiescence and accidental(?) complicity with the calculative tactics of today’s data miners, the neuromarketers, the post-truthers.
—just to name a few! So, haterz and frenemies: We await your abstracts.
 But .. psst … here we’ll whisper something into your ear, dear potential submitter: the members of this core committee (who are also editors of the journal Capacious) have sometimes found themselves among the haterz and frenemies, that we too continually entertain the potentiality and, yes, reality that affect inquiry can always and ever be thoroughly redrawn (radical contextualism, rigorous attention to singularity, and an unshakeable belief in historical contingency will do that to you), that affect theory has never been one (theory), never had a telos, and has never been nor taken a ‘turn’ – that the exploration of affect, from the get-go, has been all fits and starts, do-overs and do-again-&-agains, flailings and flailings-better/worse and it is the haterz and frenemies (not necessarily the disciples and adopters) who often make much of this possible. To this we say: thank you. And once again: BRING IT!
Does your paper abstract not really fit within any of the twenty other conference streams? Does your proposal’s affective terrain somehow manage to fall into the cracks or outside of their content areas? If so, then you can submit your paper abstract to Stream #21.
We (the Capacious conference core committee) will directly serve as evaluators of this catch-all stream. A couple of quick details: 1) we will still try to see if there is some way that your proposal does fit within the purview of one of the accepted streams (they will have priority in conference programming) 2) because of the vastness of affective territories yet uncovered, the papers / panels in this stream will likely make for interesting but disjointed intra- / inter-panel flow. But then who knows?
All this is to say, don’t make No Space / Mo’ Space your immediate default-position but only take this route if there is absolutely no way that you see your ideas fitting within any of the other twenty streams. Discuss your fit (or lack thereof) with the stream organizer that comes closest to matching your own work, and see what they recommend. Fit or not a fit? If not a fit, then, yes, by all means: apply to S21 No Space / Mo’ Space.
FIRST, PLEASE NOTE: The main campus of Millersville University is located in Millersville, Pennsylvania. The town of Millersville is roughly 6 miles southwest of the city of Lancaster. No events will be held at the main campus. All events will be at the downtown campus Ware Center on 42 North Prince Street, Lancaster PA 17603.
The closest airport to Lancaster is Harrisburg International Airport. There is car rental and taxi service between Harrisburg and downtown Lancaster. A taxi or Uber/Lyft ride from the Harrisburg airport to Lancaster is 32 miles (about 45 minute drive)—cost is $60-75 usually. Not cheap!
We ask that conference attendees arriving at the Harrisburg airport send us their travel itineraries (arrival/departure & flight numbers). On Wednesday, August 8 we will try to arrange free transport from Harrisburg to Lancaster for as many attendees as possible throughout the day. We will do the same on Sunday, August 12 for return to the airport. If you arrive or depart on days other than August 8 and August 12, we cannot arrange for free transport but there is also Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Lancaster. From Harrisburg airport, take a taxi cab or Uber/Lyft (http://www.flyhia.com/taxis) to the Middletown, Pennsylvania Amtrak station (2.1 miles from airport to train station—train ticket about $10, and the train runs between 6:30 am and 9:30 pm weekdays, 25 minute ride).
If traveling to the conference internationally, it is often best to fly into Philadelphia International Airport and then take an Amtrak train from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station directly to Lancaster. Once you’ve arrived in Philadelphia, you can take the SEPTA train ($8) from the airport to the Philadelphia 30th Street train station where SEPTA connects with Amtrak (http://www.septa.org/schedules/rail/w/AIR_0.html).
Amtrak will get you from Philadelphia to Lancaster in one hour and ten minutes. Amtrak offers eight daily trains from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia to Lancaster: $16-19 for a one-way ticket. Please check http://www.amtrak.com/home for schedules and train information.
Once at Lancaster’s train station, a Red Rose Trolley (approximately $3) takes you from the train station to the center of downtown where the hotels and convention center are located (5-10 minute trip). There are also taxi cabs generally available outside of the train station for the less adventurous. Weather permitting, it is a nice walk (about one mile) from the Lancaster train station—down Queen Street—to the downtown hotels. See https://visitlancastercity.com/transportation/.
A SPECIAL CONFERENCE RATE for the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square has been negotiated. The price at the Marriott is $142/night + room tax for a single or double room. Here is the secure link, with group discount code embedded, to book at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square: book your group rate.
If attendees wish to room share with others, the conference core committee is happy to assist in coordinating these arrangements. Just send a message to Capacious@millersville.edu with the subject line ‘room share’ and we will connect folks via email to work out
Gregory J. Seigworth Millersville University (United States)
Mathew Arthur Vancouver School of Theology (Canada)
Wendy J. Truran University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (United States)
Bryan G. Behrenshausen Red Hat (United States)