Acts of Imagination: Reading, Writing, & Interpreting Affect (ively)

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
CAPACIOUS - Millersville University, Lancaster, PA


Acts of Imagination: Reading, Writing, & Interpreting Affect (ively)

 8th – 11th August 2018

                                                                                         CAPACIOUS Affect Inquiry / Making Space Conference

 Abstracts of 250 words are invited to take part in guaranteed Stream 17 on the topic on reading, writing, and interpreting affect. The final deadline for submissions is Thursday, March 15, 2018. Submissions should be made to Please include STREAM # and/or name of the stream of the subject-line of your submission. Stream Organizer: Wendy J. Truran, stream 17.

As we cannot know affect, we are invited to consider experimental, surprising, emotional, embodied, acts of imagination in critical engagements. This stream thus ponders three broad questions circulating around reading, writing, and interpretation, that we might think of in terms of method, object, and style:

 1)    Method: How does affect transform the ways we conceive of the reading, writing, and voicing of objects/events scenes? What methods, practices, or modes of reading and hermeneutics engage affectively?

 2)    Object: Do we ‘know’ an aesthetic-affective object/scene when we feel/sense/experience it? How do we ‘find’ affect within/despite language?

 3)    Style: How can affect studies write about affect effectively and affectively? Are some styles, genres, or manners of writing/voicing more affective than others?

 This stream invites participants to explore what experimental forms of writing, reading, and interpretation - as objects and methods of scholarship - might be considered affective. It asks what modes/forms of engagement are made possible by affect, and what are the implications for our aesthetic, critical, and pedagogic practices?


Method, object, and style

 (Method) Work on affective methodologies are ongoing. Eve Sedgwick’s method of ‘reparative reading’ makes space for interpretative practices other than the hermeneutics of suspicion. Scholars have made even more room via the ‘descriptive turn’ and, in the case of Heather Love, thick descriptions and ‘micro-sociology.’ This stream invites participants to consider how these methods might be applied imaginatively, or new methods can be imagined. 

 (Object) Are there certain objects that are particularly ‘sticky’ (to borrow Sara Ahmed’s term), with affect? As Lauren Berlant points out: “Aesthetics is one of the few places we learn to recognize our emotions as trained and not natural,” and as such part of the possibility of this stream would be to imagine a creative commons of objects and methods in order to bring affective discussions alive in multiple ways.

 Signification, and specifically acts of language, might be the amber in which the vapor-trails of affect can be caught and held, but literary/aesthetic language – language vivified by the imagination – might offer the possibility of dynamic language, this stream invites you to explore texts that leave a sense of this affective to linger upon/within/around the body of the reader.

 (Style) Leading scholars of affect, such as Kathleen Stewart, Lauren Berlant, Ann Cvetkovich have not only begun to push the boundaries of scholarly writing about affect, but are also trying to write in an affective style. What communicative performances might be said to somehow voice affect? What are the benefits and risks of such performances within academia (rather than ‘art’ for example), and are these styles available for all participants in scholarship, from undergraduates and graduates to early career scholars?


Questions & topics that contributors to this stream might address (but are in no way limited to):

  • How does one identify affect in writing?
  • What forms or modes (or specific texts) of aesthetic practice best capture a sense, or sensation, of affective forces?
  • What modes of communication (known or yet to unfold) most closely capture a sense/sensation of un- / pre- conscious affective forces?
  • What methods of reading might create textual assemblages that extend beyond the boundary of the text and the reading subject?
  • What is the affective circulation between text and reader?
  • What rhetorical strategies in the social and political realm evoke new forms of feeling, or best represent newly emergent political feelings?
  • What role does pleasure play in affective writing/reading/interpreting?
  • What rhetorical strategies or literary forms best communicate a sense of, not merely a representation of, affect?