I’m excited to be teaching for the first time 21L.451 Literary Theory, on accounts of feeling and “the feelings” in aesthetics and affect theory (I put a very rudimentary course website here). I knew I wanted to cover a lot of ground, and to break somewhat from the theory survey format. The title of the class, “Feeling in Theory,” is brazenly ripped off from Rei Terada’s great book of that title (which I regret is not on the syllabus itself; I may try to correct that oversight in weeks ahead).
I will ask students (one per class session) to bring to class a cultural object in any medium suggested by the day’s assigned reading — something that can be usefully discussed in relation to the reading, in support of the argument or not. Cultural objects that have been brought into the class discussion are indicated below in brackets. Let’s see how it goes!
W 2/12 Longinus, On the Sublime [a clip from Transformers 2, illustrating how the artist may be “carried away, as though by drunkenness, into outbursts of emotion which are not relevant to the matter at hand” (103)]
T 2/18 Edmund Burke on the sublime and beautiful [the aural sublime: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring]
W 2/19 Immanuel Kant, from Critique of Judgment [no cultural object today, as I wisely deemed the hour would be better spent staring at the text in a state of desperate stupefaction]
W 2/26 Karl Marx, from Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844; Theses on Feuerbach [“Of the butchers and floorsmen, the beef-boners and trimmers, and all those who used knives, you could scarcely find a person who had the use of his thumb” — excerpts from The Jungle by Upton Sinclair]
W 3/5 T.S. Eliot, “The Metaphysical Poets”; W.K. Wimsatt, “The Affective Fallacy”
W 3/12 Benjamin “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility”
M 3/17 Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”
W 3/19 Roland Barthes, from The Pleasure of the Text; Susan Sontag, “Against Interpretation” [“What you see is what you see.” –Frank Stella]
M 3/31 Stanley Cavell, “Aesthetic Problems in Modern Philosophy”
W 4/2 Cavell, from The Senses of Walden
M 4/7 Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” [Your gaze hits the side of my face]; Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish [in the U.S., ongoing debates about “the humane way” of putting individuals to death]
M 4/14 Deleuze, “Percept, Affect, and Concept,” in What is Philosophy?
W 4/23 Jacques Rancière, “Aesthetics as Politics”
M 4/28 Leo Bersani “Is the Rectum a Grave?”
W 4/30 Eve Sedgwick, “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading”
M 5/5 Lauren Berlant, “Affect in the Present” “Cruel Optimism” [Robert D. Putnam, “Crumbling American Dreams,” The New York Times, 3 August 2013]
W 5/7 Berlant, “Intuitionists: History and the Affective Event” [from Hermann Hesse’s Demian: “How strange that the stream of the world was not to bypass us any more…”]
M 5/12 Sianne Ngai, “Stuplimity”