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Affects of Modernity

ENGL 773.401
instructor(s):
T 12-3

This course will serve as an introduction to the concept of modernity and to recent work on affect and subjectivity. Critics have spent a great deal of time attempting to describe "the experience of modernity"; in this class, we will take up this tradition of thought and push it a bit further, asking whether it makes sense to understand modernity as a collection of characteristic ways of feeling. The course will begin with readings on affect including Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Silvan Tomkins's work on affect as a feedback system, and Raymond Williams's essay on "structures of feeling." We will then move to consider several case histories, reading novels, poems, and essays as well as work in literary and cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology. The modern feelings that we will consider at greatest length will be: alienation, disenchantment, shame, boredom, shock, melancholia, double consciousness, the uncanny, mania, and what Frederic Jameson has called "the waning of affect." Students will be asked to do an in-class presentation and a seminar paper (20 pages).

Readings by Darwin, Geertz, Raymond Williams, Wimsatt and Beardsley, Sartre, Weber, William James, Freud, Silvan Tomkins, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Marx, Lukacs, Erving Goffman, Du Bois, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Rey Chow, Simmel, Hofmannsthal, Fanon, Henry James, Anne Anlin Cheng, Jameson, D. A. Miller, Arjun Appadurai, Susan Stryker, Brian Massumi, and others.

Fulfills #3 requirement.