Sincerity, Authenticity, and Affect in the Neoliberal Age (ACLA, 3/26-29/15; abstracts by 10/13)

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American Comparative Literature Association
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Sincerity, Authenticity, and Affect in the Neoliberal Age
American Comparative Literature Association
Seattle, March 26-29, 2015

This seminar will explore notions of sincerity, affect, and authenticity in contemporary literary and cultural productions of any nationality, specifically in light of the neoliberal age. At a time when even the most trivial aspects of daily life have been commodified there has also been a marked turn to sincerity, affect, and questions of authenticity in culture and the arts. Though performativity has superseded the transcendent category of "the real" in the wake of postmodernism, many contemporary literary and cultural artifacts nevertheless seek to re-envision or repurpose ideas of authenticity. Recent studies have also addressed related concerns with sincerity and/or affect, including work by Sianne Ngai and Patricia Clough. This seminar will explore the ways sincerity, affect, and authenticity imbricate and inform one another. Is sincerity merely a mode of affect, or is it something else? In what ways are these notions constructed, or is conceiving of them as constructions antithetical to their supposed ontological status as "real"? Are there differences between past and present formulations of them? What are the historical turning points? Are today's formulations merely nostalgic or sentimentalized, or are they indicative of new and singular ways of being? Finally, what is the relationship of authenticity, sincerity, and affect to neoliberal ideology? Do they challenge neoliberal order, or point to the (seemingly) final commodification of emotional life itself? Papers might explore these topics with regard to aesthetics, culture, economics, race, class, gender, or nationality. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

--The so-called "New Sincerity" movement
--The recent controversial "Facebook study" and the manipulation of emotion/emoti-cons
--Post-postmodernism, cosmodernism, metamodernism, etc.
--The role of irony in today's supposed post-ironic, post-9/11 world
--The relationship between sentiment and sentimentality
--Sincerity, authenticity, and neo-realism
--Gender: are sincerity and authenticity gendered formations? Why are a preponderance of the artists associated with them male?
--The contribution of nostalgia (for ages of pop culture, for "golden ages" of all sorts) to this alignment of affect and commodification?
--Performativity, affect, and sincerity
--"Authentic" subjectivity or a post-humanist authenticity
--Formations of racial/ethnic/class identities or regionalist perspectives

Organizers: Ralph Clare ( and Jeffrey Severs (

Please send abstract (300 words) and brief bio to the above email addresses by October 13, 2014. Submissions for this seminar will also be accepted through the portal at once it becomes active in late September -- if submitting before that date, though, please send email.