Attachment and Affect

deadline for submissions: 
January 9, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University of Virginia Department of English
contact email: 

Attachment and Affect

March 22-23, 2019

The University of Virginia Department of English Graduate Conference


Keynote by Lisa Ruddick (UChicago)

Master class with Rita Felski (UVA/SDU)


Why does the study of literature matter? What is the relationship between reader and text? How can affective responses to texts inform criticism? This conference seeks to take seriously our aesthetic and affective attachments, the attachments at work within and among literary texts, and the ways attachments form and function.

The University of Virginia Department of English invites graduate student proposals for conference presentations that explore issues of attunement, mood, feeling, pleasure, taste, identification, inwardness, the self, intersubjectivity, judgment, politics, aesthetics, consumer culture, objects, the everyday and ordinary, and the state of academic criticism. We welcome papers that explore these topics as well as their interdisciplinary intersections in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, music, architecture, and others.    

Possible paper topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Defining attachment
  • Rethinking pleasure
  • Mood and atmosphere
  • Positive and negative affect
  • The phenomenology of reading
  • The sensibility of criticism
  • How texts orient their readers
  • Aesthetic value
  • A hermeneutic language of receptivity and generosity
  • A text’s interpersonal and transpersonal dimensions
  • The relationship between forms in literature and forms in the world
  • Everyday forms and structures of experience
  • Book history/how texts resonate across time
  • The relationship between art and the social

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words, along with relevant biographical information and institutional affiliation, to by January 9, 2019. Presentations should be 20 minutes in length. 


Lisa Ruddick is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Reading Gertrude Stein: Body, Text, and Gnosis (1990) and many articles, including “When Nothing is Cool” (2015), which examines the state of literary criticism. Her current book project explores the ways in which professional training in the humanities, conducted with the best of intentions, can thwart feelings of aliveness by partially dissociating practitioners from their intuitions and deep affective resources.

Rita Felski is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English at the University of Virginia and the Niels Bohr Professor at the University of Southern Denmark. She is the author of many books, most recently The Limits of Critique (2015) and Critique and Postcritique (2017). Her current research centers on questions of method, interpretation, and aesthetic value, and she is completing a new book called Hooked: Art and Attachment, examining how and why we get stuck to works of art.