Introduction to Affect Theory (2017/18)
One of the main theoretical anchor points of poststructuralist feminist and queer theory is the Foucauldean insight that power, conceived of as a dynamically shifting system of force relations, is everywhere. A corollary of this insight concerns the necessary rethinking of our conventional understandings of what Butler calls the voluntaristic subject who claims recognition and emancipation based on a distinct experience and its relationship to the concept of embodiment. This course explores the way in which this rethinking can conceive of embodiment as a process of affective agency. The readings of the course, whose focus range from anthropology, Foucauldean understandings of gendered embodiment, psychoanalysis, affect theory, queer theory, disability studies, to new materialism, offer different ways of suggesting that the agency of affective embodiement both produces and exceeds the voluntarist subject of emancipation.
At the end of the course, students will be familiar with Foucault’s theory of modern biopower, and will be able to connect it to the ways subsequent feminist and queer theory either made use if this theory. Students will also be familiar with the most important arguments in affect theory and how they inform new materialism.
Class participation will include group presentations, and there will be one written assignment in the form of a 2500-word paper