Together with Beatrice Michaelis and Kai Sicks, I will organize a conference on the concept of „Cultures of Feeling“ this fall. We have just released the Call for Papers, and welcome proposals until June 1st. Keynote speakers include Claudia Benthien, Isabel Gil and Tilmann Habermas.
Call for Papers…
Cultures of Feelings: Narratives and Contexts
International Conference Organised by the European PhD-Network “Literary and Cultural Studies” (PhDnet) and the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC)
Justus Liebig University Giessen 7-9 November 2012
Literary, filmic, and theatrical narratives place fictional characters in unique and often experimental situations, thereby staging cultural conflicts, otherwise inscrutable aporias and potential solutions. Factual narratives, including news stories, historical accounts and documentaries, similarly tend to chart prototypical conflicts between protagonists and their cultural milieus. In both cases, it is often the protagonists’ feelings that are confronted with cultural and social regimes. On the one hand, emotions are the very product of such regimes, and tightly interwoven with their regulations (this, too, concerns the ability to articulate feelings in the first place). On the other hand, emotions may be directed against their context, with the latter seemingly limiting and normalising the emotion in question. The conference aims to investigate fictional and factual stories with an eye for such narrative configurations of feelings. Discussions will focus on the negotiations between feelings and the ‘cultures of feelings’ in which they are embedded and to whose configurations they contribute. A second issue will concern the analytical and theoretical import of the – as yet rudimentary – concept, ‘cultures of feelings.’
The term ‘cultures of feelings’ articulates the hypothesis that feelings, historically and culturally, are to varying degrees entwined with discourses and policies, whether cultural, political, social or otherwise. It is within these discourses that modes of emotional articulability are negotiated and controlled. At the same time, such discourses and policies connect feelings with religious, national, and gender differences, to mention only a few, and so it is in part through these links that emotions are integrated into the social dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, and therefore to power relations. Fictional and factual narratives are ideal for examining the establishment and deconstruction of emotional-cultural stipulations, while also contributing to the specific cultural environment by provoking emotional reactions. This conference aims to make this a topic of current discussion by engaging in foundational theoretical deliberations and specific instances of text-context analysis.
Although they need not be limited to the following questions, conference papers should be guided by them:
(1) What conflicts relevant to emotionality are introduced in literary texts, films, comics, reports, oral narratives, etc.? Which feelings are thematised therein, and how are they defined? Is it a matter of too little emotion, or too much? What are the concerns regarding the inappropriateness of or inability to articulate certain feelings in certain social contexts?
(2) How are emotional conflicts staged, and what aporias or potential solutions are expressed? What narrative subtexts are taken up in the primary text? Can character types be identified with whom similar emotional conflicts are linked across specific or trans-cultural histories (the enthusiast, the bookish girl, etc.)?
(3) What is the social and cultural positioning of feelings with respect to gender, religion, generation, and so on? How are the emotional intensities of characters kept in check, and what control measures are built around them (i. e. the discourse of moderation, efficiency, and different forms of medication and medicalization)?
(4) How do the narratively staged conflicts reflect culturally emotional issues from the emergence of narration? What do these conflicts symbolize, culturally and socially, in different periods? What feelings are provoked through stories, and in what ways? What is the function of the text within the wider culture of feelings?
We welcome presentations covering fictional and/or factual narrative accounts from different historical periods, and are particularly interested in comparative textual analyses. Conference languages are English and German. Please send an abstract of 300-500 words, a list of 3-5 bibliographical references and a short bio by 1st June 2012 to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.