How to Do Things with Affects

Affective Triggers in Aesthetic Forms and Cultural Practices


Volume Editors: and
How to Do Things with Affects develops affect as a highly productive concept for both cultural analysis and the reading of aesthetic forms. Shifting the focus from individual experiences and the human interiority of personal emotions and feelings toward the agency of cultural objects, social arrangements, and aesthetic matter, the book examines how affects operate and are triggered by aesthetic forms, media events, and cultural practices. Transgressing disciplinary boundaries and emphasizing close reading, the collected essays explore manifold affective transmissions and resonances enacted by modernist literary works, contemporary visual arts, horror and documentary films, museum displays, and animated pornography, with a special focus on how they impact on political events, media strategies, and social situations.

Contributors: Ernst van Alphen, Mieke Bal, Maria Boletsi, Eugenie Brinkema, Pietro Conte, Anne Fleig, Bernd Herzogenrath, Tomáš Jirsa, Matthias Lüthjohann, Susanna Paasonen, Christina Riley, Jan Slaby, Eliza Steinbock, Christiane Voss.

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Ernst van Alphen, Ph.D. (1988), University of Utrecht, is Professor of Literary studies at the University of Leiden. His most recent books are Failed Images: Photography and Its Counter-Practices (2018) and Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media (2014).

Tomaš Jirsa, Ph.D. (2012), Charles University, is Postdoctoral Researcher in Comparative Literature at Palacký University Olomouc. He has published books and articles on the relations between modern literature and the visual arts, media theory, and the affective aesthetics of music videos.
"The major strengths of How to Do Things with Affects [...] are the multidisciplinary exemplification of a very general schema and the refinement of what exactly is meant by the stylish phrase, 'to restore agency to form.' Scholars working to recuperate literature and art as suitable objects of inquiry in affect studies will find several essays here that bolster that effort. All in all, if something of a formalist turn is underway in affect theory, How to Do Things with Affects [...] is an enriching volume that can serve as an introduction to that turn or an abundant development of it.
- Stephanie Amon, Afterimage (2020) 47 (2): 93–96.
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Mapping Affective Operations
Ernst van Alphen and Tomáš Jirsa

Triggering the Affects
1 Reading Irony through Affect: the Non-Sovereign Ironic Subject in C.P. Cavafy’s Diary
Maria Boletsi
2 (An)Aesthetics of Affect: the Case of Hyper-Realism
Pietro Conte
3 Relational Affect: Perspectives from Philosophy and Cultural Studies
Jan Slaby
4 (Nearly) Nothing to Express : Horror : some Tread : a Toroid
Eugenie Brinkema
5 Integrating Affect and Language: Essayism as an Affective Practice in Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities
Anne Fleig and Matthias Lüthjohann

Sensations, Resonances, and Transformations
6 Affective Disfigurations: Faceless Encounters between Literary Modernism and the Great War
Tomáš Jirsa
7 Monstrous Resonances: Affect and Animated Pornography
Susanna Paasonen
8 Reading for Affects: Francis Bacon and the Work of Sensation
Ernst van Alphen

Affects as Triggers
9 Affectively Effective: Affect as an Artistic-Political Strategy
Mieke Bal
10 Affect Is the Medium
Christiane Voss
11 Et in Academia Ego: Affect and Academic Writing
Bernd Herzogenrath
12 The Arab Spring’s Stranger: the Affective Media Phenomenon of The Girl in the Blue Bra
Christina Riley
13 Affective Exchange in Portraiture: to Follow J. Jackie Baier into the Photographic Dissolve
Eliza Steinbock
Name Index
Due to its interdisciplinary scope, this book will be of interest to a wide range of scholars, teachers and students of visual and media studies, literary and cultural studies, philosophy and aesthetics.
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