Call for Papers
Feeling Queer / Queer Feeling
Université de Toronto, Canada
24–26 mai 2017
Call for Papers
Feeling Queer / Queer Feeling
Université de Toronto, Canada 24–26 mai 2017
How can we begin to apprehend that which is not representable, that which cannot be communicated in any way whatsoever, and that which cannot be rendered immanent through literature, cinema, painting, or by any other art form? Theories of affect are a tactical and strategic manner in which to seize the unseizable aspects of infinite difference, of the differential, of the spectre of alterity at the very heart of the self. We thus consider that affect is first and foremost corporeal, tied to physical phenomenon beyond reach of representation, and to the concrete experience of self, other, and world in an always ephemeral manner.
However, to speak about affect and of a critique and theory of the affects, is to attempt to translate into words the linguistically untranslatable. Certainly, we may speak of feelings, sensations, emotions, perceptions; nevertheless, we must take into consideration that these words, notions, terms, and concepts are only partial, incomplete and imperfect attempts at translation. Translation reduces the complexity, wealth, diversity, multiplicity, plurality, singularity and unity of the phenomenon that we want to describe. Another result of the desire to identify, classify and name the unnamable is to discipline and normalize human beings culturally, socially, and politically – and—crucially for our purposes here —in terms of affectivity. In order to be part of the family, the group, the community, and the nation, an individual must translate his affectivity in accordance with the norms that construct, in both public and private space, the common or collective affects of the community. If the linguistic translation of the bodily phenomenon of affect is impossible, then the possibility for an individual to define himself or herself in accordance with a preestablished normative affectivity is in fact a negation of his or her own affectivity, therefore of the singular and single individuality of any human being. It is thus that cultural, social, institutional and political power – absolutely external to the individual – creates, informs and gives meaning to what he or she believes is his or her most profound interiority. Interiority becomes an effect of illusion. And this illusion of interiority is in fact pure exteriority for each human being.
The simplest definition that we can propose is that suggested by Brian Massumi: affect is “the capacity to affect or be affected.” This is deceptively simple. First, it is directly relational, because it places affect in the space of relation: between affecting and being affected. It focuses on the middle, directly on what happens between. More than that, it forbids separating passivity from activity. This definition considers “to be affected” a “capacity” (Politics of Affect 91). Massumi places affect in an intersubjective, interrelationnal space that is both interactive and primarily physical, concrete and corporeal. Affect touches each individual, each person, each subject and, at the same time, it is a phenomenon that inheres in the collective, in plurality and in the multitude. Affect shapes us and informs us; for this reason it is also linked with questions of power – a diffuse power, a dissemination of power, a power which affects us and by which we affected, and yet, that is imperceptible even in its most material effects. The power of affect and the affect of power touch consequently the cultural, social and political spheres.
Several critics and theorists in the last few years have questioned queer theory from the vantage point of affect and affect theory from the vantage point of theory queer. For instance, we may consider Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity, 2002), Sara Ahmed (The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004; Queer Phenomenology, 2006; Willful Subjects, 2014), Lauren Berlant (Cruel Optimism, 2011), Heather Love (Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History, 2007), David L. Eng (The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy, 2010), Ann Cvetkovich (An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Public Lesbian Cultures and Depression: With Public Feeling, 2003), Mel Y. Chen (Animacies: Biolopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, 2012), Anthony Siu (Architectural Grotesque: Impersonal Affects and the New Queer Cinematic, 2013), Shaka McGlotten (Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality, 2013), Judith Butler (Senses of the Subject, 2015), and David M. Halperin and Valerie Traub (Gay Shame, 2009).
The work of these critics and theorists reconsiders, updates, and problematizes the tradition of analysis of the passions, sentiments, feelings, sensations, and emotions. They also approach, in very different ways, the older problematics of rhetorics, poetics, hermeneutics, and aesthetics. Several take up and reframe the canonical work of Spinoza, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Husserl and Bergson. The encounters between queer theory and affect has thus recently become stimulating and productive in critiques of queer embodiment and its relation to the social, the emergent, and the world.
For this conference, we invite proposals for presentations in French or English in the fields of literature, cinema, arts, communications, theory and more generally in social sciences. Proposals of 300 words should indicate the name of the researcher, his or her university affiliation and email address. Proposals should be sent by December 15th, 2016 at the latest to:
Jorge Calderón (email@example.com)
Domenico Beneventi (Domenico.Beneventi@USherbrooke.ca)
Pascal Michelucci (firstname.lastname@example.org)