On Fear and Loathing: Negative Affect and the American Novel

Winter 2016-2017

28710 / 38710

Megan Tusler

Since the “affective turn,” cultural studies has continued to consider how collective feelings like shame, willfulness, envy, and dread penetrate literary and art works. This course serves as an introduction to the structures and unstructures of affect studies through novels concerned with bad feeling. It asks students to consider how vectors of inequality demand fictional explication of negative affects; how authors’ own reading of philosophies of bad feeling might affect our interpretations of their fictions; and how the invocation of particular affects might open up or foreclose particular kinds of interpretation. We will read contemporary affect theorists like Sianne Ngai, Sara Ahmed, Brian Massumi, and Eve Sedgwick, and fiction by authors including Toni Morrison, Jeff Jackson, and Kathy Acker. Undergraduate: (B, H) Graduate: (20th/21st)