Using a collective biography method informed by a Deleuzian theoretical approach (Davies and Gannon 2009, 2012), this article analyses embodied memories of girlhood becomings through affective engagements with resonating images in media and popular culture. In this approach to analysis we move beyond the impasse in some feminist cultural studies where studies of popular culture have been understood through theories of representation and reception that retain a sense of discrete subjectivity and linear effects. In these approaches, analysis focuses respectively on decoding and deciphering images in terms of their normative and ideological baggage, and, particularly with moving images, on psychological readings. Understanding bodies and popular culture through Deleuzian notions of “becoming“ and “assemblage“ opens possibilities for feminist researchers to consider the ways in which bodies are not separate from images but are, rather, becomings that are known, felt, materialized and mobilized with/through images (Coleman 2008a, 2008b, 2008c, 2009, 2011; Ringrose and Coleman 2013). We tease out the implications of this new approach to media affects through three memories of girls' engagements with media images, reconceived as moments of embodied being within affective flows of popular culture that might momentarily extend upon ways of being and doing girlhood.
Bodies, Girlhood and Popular Culture
Kristina Gottschall, Susanne Gannon, Jo Lampert and Kelli McGraw
Affective States—Entanglements, Suspensions, Suspicions
Mateusz Laszczkowski and Madeleine Reeves
The aim of this special issue is to bring a critical discussion of affect into debate with the anthropology of the state as a way of working toward a more coherent, ethnographically grounded exploration of affect in political life. We consider how the state becomes a 'social subject' in daily life, attending both to the subjective experience of state power and to the affective intensities through which the state is reproduced in the everyday. We argue that the state should be understood not as a 'fiction' to be deconstructed, but as constituted and sustained relationally through the claims, avoidances, and appeals that are made toward it and the emotional registers that these invoke. This article situates these arguments theoretically and introduces the subsequent ethnographic essays.
The Correctness of Affective Transactions in Northeast Brazil
Drawing on ethnographic research in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, this article proposes the concept of the 'intimate event' as a heuristic device in the cross-cultural study of kinship and relatedness. This theoretical construct refers to the retrospective recognition of affective transactions as meaningfully intimate, that recognition being an event which in Maranhão compels ethical reflection. Intimacy can be imagined as an aesthetic of practice that indicates when something simply feels right, and which then frames the correctness of both moral conformity and transgression in affective terms.
Most films, most of the time, are affectively unified. What I call “synesthetic affects” are orchestrated in an attempt to provide a holistic affective experience congruent with the film's unfolding narrative and thematic concerns. Yet Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line elicits contradictory or incongruent affects, such incongruence neither being justified by genre conventions, “excess,” irony, nor stumbled upon through incompetence. The Thin Red Line elicits incongruent emotions for the purposes of generating an experience of rumination and wonder. The study of such incongruent emotions, still in its infancy, raises important methodological issues about the study of mixed emotions and the conventions for mixing affects in the cinema.
Grace Helbig’s Affective Aesthetics
An emerging genre across literature, screen, and digital media is beginning to articulate profound dissatisfaction with postfeminist social norms and scripts. In this article, I explore how American comedian Grace Helbig exploits and reworks classic postfeminist self-improvement genres through her parodying of the YouTube how-to video. Using Helbig’s video as an illustrative case study, my analysis demonstrates that affect theory has the capacity to make a vital contribution to current postfeminist debates. Recent research finds postfeminist analysis lacks the facility to fully comprehend the complexity of contemporary femininities, suggesting that postfeminist media studies as a genre of scholarship has reached a critical impasse. Drawing on Lauren Berlant’s (2008, 2011, 2015) work, I examine how Helbig affectively deflates popular postfeminist fantasies of fun-loving confident girlhood. More widely, I argue that affective approaches offer feminist scholars a dynamic framework to make sense of the continuing impact and legacies of postfeminist media culture.
Kathrin Fahlenbrach and Barbara Flueckiger
Although some research has been done about narrative functions of title sequences in television series, this article focuses on their affective implications for viewers. Concentrating on immersive styles in trailer sequences of quality series, the article discusses diverse strategies of their affective priming, asking: How do immersive openers prime the viewers' affective appraisal of the show to follow? And how do they prepare them for the leading “feeling tone” (Plantinga 2009: 166) and mood of a series' world? Using the popular openers of the series Dexter, Six Feet Under, and True Blood, the article analyzes in three in-depth analyses successful immersive strategies for affective priming. They argue that these immersive title sequences use embodied metaphors, and symbols of collective imagery to create ambivalent affective cues that even tend to create mixed feelings in the viewers.
The Fleshy Horror of the Unknowable Other in Spring and Honeymoon
Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon (2014) and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Spring (2015) initially seem like two horror films birthed in the spirit of classical psychoanalytic film criticism. They deal with a monstrous female, a fearful, castrated male, and the “otherness” of sexual relationships. Through a close analysis of each film, however, I suggest in the following that both films “think” through problems of the gendered other, sexual politics, and cinematic affect outside the bounds of contemporary psychoanalytic or affect theory. By suggesting and analyzing two neologisms that blend the insights of psychoanalytic and affective film theory—objet a(ffect) and che(www) vuoi—I argue that both films not only complicate typical readings of horror films “about” gender and sex, but that each film performs its own type of philosophical thought about gender and “otherness” through its very form and content.
Between Movies and Mind, Affective Neuroscience, and the Philosophy of Film
Murray Smith’s Film, Art, and the Third Culture makes a significant contribution to cognitive film theory and philosophical aesthetics, expanding the conceptual tools of film analysis to include perspectives from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. Smith probes assumptions about how cinema affects spectators by examining aspects of experience and neurophysiological responses that are unavailable to conscious, systematic reflection. This article interrogates Smith’s account of emotion, empathy, and imagination in cinematic representation and film spectatorship, placing his work in dialogue with other recent interventions in the fields of cinema studies and embodied cognition. Smith’s contribution to understanding the role of emotion in screen studies is vital, and when read in conjunction with recent publications by Carl Plantinga and Mark Johnson on ethical engagement and the moral imagination, this new work constitutes a notable advance in film theory.
Evoking the Affective Powers of ‘Happiness’ in Commercial Surrogacy
This article explores how the notion of happiness is employed in order to obscure the moral ambiguity and intimate uncertainties of commercial surrogacy. My ethnographic data elucidate the ways in which surrogacy agents and other intermediaries operating in Russia and Ukraine evoke happiness. I discuss three forms of their affective labour: a discourse of fear and hope, the attempt to make surrogacy a joyous and happy process and the claim that there is a right to happiness. I contend that ‘happiness’ serves as the ultimate argument, an argument that has the affective power to override moral concerns and delegitimise critique.
Abstract: Using an analysis of two of Sartre's biographies, and , I will show how freedom can be inverted into captivity in order to constitute an affective destiny. If every choice, act and affect of an individual is, through its “original project,” confined to a specific framework, the schema of freedom positing its choice of existence seems to resemble a circle of captivity: total freedom at the outset, and then a trapped freedom, limited by itself. At the basis of this alienating circle lie original emotions: consciousness reacts affectively to its initial situation, before even constituting itself as a , and adopts these emotions as integral parts of its project, as the structure of its relationship to the world. But the empirical affects which follow are then captured in the vortex of captivity, in accordance with a two-fold criterion: participating in the ultimate end of the individual while at the same time being inscribed in the affective structure which follows from it. Originally the very source of the original project, emotion then becomes its slave.
French À travers l'analyse de deux biographies sartriennes, Baudelaire et Mallarmé, nous mettons en évidence la manière dont la liberté s'inverse en captivité pour se constituer un destin affectif. Si tout choix, acte et affect de l'individu est, par son projet originel, circonscrit à un cadre d'action précis, le schéma de la liberté posant son choix d'existence paraît assimilable au cercle de la captivité : une liberté totale à l'origine, une liberté piégée, limitée par elle-même, ensuite. Au fondement même de ce cercle aliénant, des émotions originelles : la conscience réagit affectivement à sa situation initiale, avant même de se constituer en personne, et assume ces émotions comme partie intégrante de son projet, comme structure de son rapport au monde. Mais les affects empiriques qui s'ensuivent sont alors pris dans le tourbillon de la captivité, devant répondre à un double critère : participer à la fin ultime de l'individu tout en s'inscrivant dans la structure affective qui en découle. Source même du projet originel, l'émotion en devient l'esclave.