Forms of Feeling: Reading for Affect and Emotion

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Friends of English-Southland Graduate Conference (UCLA Graduate Student Conference)

Forms of Feeling: Reading for Affect and Emotion
Call for Papers
Friends of English-Southland Graduate Conference
University of California, Los Angeles, June 5th, 2015
Keynote speaker: TBA

"In the arts, feeling is always meaning" –Henry James

The turn toward a critical engagement with feeling has given literary studies a new way of reading the relationships between text and its subject, context, and reader. But how does it answer aesthetic questions about form?

When W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley cautioned against the "Affective Fallacy," they opposed a reader-response theory of literature called "affective criticism." The formalism of the New Critics argued that an interpretation based upon emotion is antithetical to the meaning of a literary work; but according to Adela Pinch, the feelings contained within a text are forms themselves, that "knowing one's feelings may always involve recognizing them through conventions or forms." Sharing this opinion are critics such as Jane Thrailkill who claim that "feeling is not opposed to interpretation but is part of it," and Sianne Ngai, for whom feelings negotiate the aesthetic and the political in "a more fluid reading across forms, genres, and periods."

Our commitment to feeling not only reflects a resurgent interest in aesthetics, but also is accompanied by many other inquiries into the role of emotion and affect and its various linkages between the historical, theoretical, and ideological. However one chooses to differentiate feeling from the terms emotion and affect, it is clear that the affective turn is an important reassessment of how feeling represents and imagines states of knowing and being.

This conference will explore how poetical, literary, or other aesthetic forms produce a knowledge through feelings, emotions, and affects—and vice versa. We invite perspectives from across the humanities that consider any aspect of form and feeling, broadly conceived, including such topics as:

• positive and negative feelings
• trauma and loss
• passion and love
• sensibility, sentiment, extravagance, piety
• genre, poetics
• sexuality, queer affects
• reading practices
• aesthetics and formalism
• affect theory
• against feeling, affect
• the history of emotion

Please submit proposals of approximately 250 words to by March 31st, 2015. (Should you require audio-visual equipment for your presentation, please let us know.)