Affective Modernism - MSA14 (Las Vegas, NV, Oct 18 - 21, 2012)

full name / name of organization: 
Richard Cole
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This panel explores how affective modernism might begin to be understood, with particular attention to the cultural politics of emotion at stake in collective "belonging."

What kinds of critical interventions are possible when modernist scholars theorize the affective attachments required to belong to an artist group or larger social community as essentially visceral cultivated ways of knowing and being in the public sphere? For instance, Lauren Berlant (reading Kant) takes the problem of thinking belonging to be, in part, a problem of "assessing the sensing of commonality, of figuring the sensus communis." Following Berlant's claim, might a theory of affective modernism begin to conceptualize the commons—often touted as democracy without hierarchy—as forged through the affects of belonging? To invert this claim as a question of cultural critique: was modernism's revolutionary project forged by creating new attachments of belonging? Did this simultaneously involve cultivating a detachment from prior modes of community/collectivity? How do the body politics of affective belonging become a particularly modernist concern? Lastly, how do affective attachments to any community involve a kind of blind faith or false optimism? Papers from all disciplines and genres on these or other questions related to affective modernism are welcomed.

Please submit 250-word abstracts and a short bio to Richard Cole ( by March 26, 2012.