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Politics, Power and Affect

PSCI 798.302
Tuesdays 10:30-12:00pm

While some scholars still depict political theory as the search for order over disarray, reason over passion, this graduate-level seminar is focused on the central but unruly role of emotions in political life. Toward this end, we will engage with some of the most significant work theorizing the connections among politics, power, affect and emotion. This is not an overview of the interdisciplinary turn to affect in contemporary theory and criticism, but rather an effort to come to terms with how a range of embodied affects work in the formation of political aversions, attachments and judgments. Our material includes readings in political, feminist and queer theory, along with novels and empirical studies of emotion in specific political settings. Authors include Sara Ahmed, James Baldwin, Lauren Berlant, Sonali Charkavarty, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Julia Kristeva, Saba Mahmood, Toni Morrison, Corey Robin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Shklar. Among the topics covered are fear, disgust, shame, resentment, grief, paranoia, love, humiliation, rage, cruelty, and the need to help. 


Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion

Arlie Hochschild, Strangers in their Own Land

Daniel D. Martin, The Politics of Sorrow: Families, Victims, and the Micro-Organization of Youth Homicide

Judith Shklar, Ordinary Vices

Corey Robin, Fear: The History of a Political Idea

Sonali Chakravarty, Sing the Rage: Listening to Anger after Mass Violence

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Toni Morrison, Beloved 

Victoria Kahn, “The Duty to Love: Passion and Obligation in Early Modern Political Theory,” Representations 68:84-107

Julia Kristeva,  “Hatred and Forgiveness; or, From Abjection to Paranoia” in Hatred and Forgiveness

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re so Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay is  About You,” in Touching FeelingAffect, Pedagogy, Performativity

Elizabeth Amato, The Pursuit of Happiness and the American Regime: Political Theory in Literature

Saba Mahmood, The Politics of PietyThe Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject  

Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism

Ann Kvetkovich, Depression: A Public Feeling

Liisa H.Malkki, The Need to Help: The Domestic Arts of International Humanitarianism

Juliana Ochs, Security and Suspicion: An Ethnography of Everyday Life in Israel

fulfills requirements