Thinking Feeling: Critical Theory, Culture, Feeling
18th -19th May 2012
University of Sussex
£65 (waged)/£35 (unwaged)
Keynote speakers: Timothy Bewes (Brown), “The Surge: Turning Away From Affect”; Eva Illouz (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), “Why Emotions are Crucial to Capitalism”; Ben Highmore (Sussex), “Mood Work”; Alex Düttmann (Goldsmiths), “The Feeling of Life.”
Happiness is obsolete: uneconomic.’ (Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia)
As the recent English riots indicate, there is no escaping the fact that economics provokes, amongst other things, strong feelings. Whether we like it or not, a neoliberal language of economics now pervades and colours our inner ‘private’ emotional lives; the government’s emerging plans to compile a ‘happiness index’ is another example of how a rhetoric or discourse of ‘feeling’ can be co-opted by capital. More than ever, then, it is important we do not simply accept ‘feeling’ as a spontaneous or natural phenomenon, but instead subject it to genuinely critical scrutiny. Are some feelings static, essential and ahistorical, or can we trace their genealogies? Are feelings entirely subjective and individual or are they actually objective and social? If they are social, whose feelings are they?
By placing contemporary cultural and literary theory, especially as it deals with ‘affect,’ alongside the tradition of Critical Theory, this conference asks what might be at stake politically, aesthetically and even experientially in the recent turn towards a discourse of feeling. With its roots in Hegel, Marx, and Freud, Critical Theory has always been concerned with the role of feeling, in all its senses. Meanwhile, literary theorists and practitioners as diverse as Georges Bataille, Raymond Williams and Eve Sedgwick have also focused on relations between culture, society and felt experience. Thinking Feeling will use all these resources to examine feeling today.
Please visit website for more details and to register.
Supported by the Centre for Modernist Studies, the Centre for Literature and Philosophy, and the Centre for Social and Political Thought.