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The Affect Theory Reader


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
An Inventory of Shimmers / Gregory J. Seigworth and Melissa Gregg 1
One. Impingements
1. Happy Objects / Sara Ahmed 29
2. The Future Birth of the Affective Fact: The Political Ontology of Threat / Brian Massumi 52
3. Writing Shame / Elspeth Probyn 71
Two. Aesthetics and the Everyday
4. Cruel Optimism / Lauren Berlant 93
5. Bitter after Taste: Affect, Food, and Social Aesthetics / Ben Highmore 118
An Ethics of Everyday Infinities and Powers: Felix Guattari on Affect and the Refrain/ Lone Bertelsen and Andrew Murphie 138
Three. Incorporeal/Inorganic
7. Modulating the Excess of Affect: Morale in a State of "Total War" / Ben Anderson 161
8. After Affect: Sympathy, Synchrony, and Mimetic Communication / Anna Gibbs 186
9. The Affective Turn: Political Economy, Biomedia, and Bodies / Patricia T. Clough 206
Four. Managing Affects
10. Eff the Ineffable: Affect, Somatic Management, and Mental Health Service Users / Steven D. Brown and Ian Tucker 229
11. On Friday Night Drinks: Workplace Affects in the Age of the Cubicle / Melissa Gregg 250
12. Desiring Recognition, Accumulating Affect / Megan Watkins 269
Five. After Affect
13. Understanding the Material Practices of Glamour / Nigel Thrift 289
14. Affect's Future: Rediscovering the Virtual in the Actual / Lawrence Grossberg (An Interview with Gregory J. Seigworth and Melissa Gregg) 309
Afterword. Worlding Refrains / Kathleen Stewart 339
References 355
Contributors 381
Index 385

Promotional Information

A collection of essays on affect theory by groundbreaking scholars in the field

About the Author

Melissa Gregg works in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia. She is the author of Cultural Studies' Affective Voices.Gregory J. Seigworth is a professor in communication and theater at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.


"While a reader of the book might be left less rather than more sure of what precisely constitutes 'affect theory', or even affect itself, s/he is nevertheless very likely to be moved by the range of both thought and affective styles that make up the volume and constitute what the editors call in the introduction, an 'inventory of shimmers' (p11). This incitement to 'more than discourse', the capacity 'to touch, to move, to mobilise readers' (p24) is exactly what one would hope for from a reader of affect theory, and is what the contributions that make up this collection indeed achieve." Michael Goddard, New Formations "The Affect Theory Reader shows how affect can be deployed in a range of frameworks, including the neurological, psychological, social, cultural, philosophical and political, and that there is room for debate among these various fields - above all between the Deleuze-inspired writings of Brian Massumi and his followers and those of the more scientifically minded followers of Eve Sedgwick, whose work was formulated in dialogue with affect psychologist Silvan Tomkins" Todd Cronan, Radical Philosophy, March 2012 "The Affect Theory Reader is unique. It gathers interesting and provocative articles on affect by well-known theorists and suggestively brings to expression the productive divergence between different philosophical and psychological positions on the subject." Erin Manning, author of Politics of Touch: Sense, Movement, Sovereignty "Written by some of the most interesting and important thinkers in the field, the essays in this superb collection prove how any serious consideration of culture and politics needs to involve serious attention to affect. The Affect Theory Reader covers remarkable ground: from the ontology of 'future threat' in Bush's pre-emptive politics to the management of workplace affects in the information economy; from the biology of human mimicry to attachments to promises of the 'good life' that often cruelly wear out economically precarious subjects. Thoughtfully curated and genuinely interdisciplinary with contributors from fields ranging from media studies to geography, Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth's reader will be indispensable to anyone working in or adjacent to affect theory." Sianne Ngai, author of Ugly Feelings

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