Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

Courses / Graduate

Spring 2017

ETHSTD 250.003 | Critical Theory 240.001 | CCN: 31987

Structures of Feeling: The Politics and Histories of Affect

Raúl Coronado,

4 Units


The language of affect is everywhere around us. We talk about our feelings as things that are ours, that we own; we describe how works of art (music, film, literature, art, etc.) create a sense of wonder that make us feel closer to the sublime, a feeling of fullness, of transcendence; and we are often inspired and called to act in reaction to political events. Have emotions always been felt so keenly within the body, within the self or can they be contained in other types of structures? Do feelings have histories? And what work does affect do? We’ll begin with the assumption that feelings are both embodied emotions experienced by individuals and that they are historically situated constructs that emerge out of local conditions. This is to say that affect is both historical and political. Our seminar will take an interdisciplinary approach to affect studies by drawing on history, philosophy, literary criticism, and social science literature. We’ll want to pay close careful attention to the power of affect while situating it within the larger historical, epistemic framework that has allowed for affect to emerge in a variety of forms. Readings may include Foucault, Charles Taylor, Marx, Raymond Williams, Sara Ahmed, William Reddy, Amit Rai, Ann Stoler, Vivasvani Soni, Eli Zaretsky.