The Craft of Writing
R1B - 001 | CCN: 77815
Thinking Feeling: Reading, Writing, and Emotion
Instructor: Adam Hutz and Michelle Potts
In David Foster Wallace’s epic novel Infinite Jest, halfway house resident Kate Grompert endeavors to describe her depression—chronic, debilitating, visceral—as “a kind of radical abstracting of everything, a hollowing out of stuff that used to have affective content.” She continues: “Terms the un-depressed toss around and take for granted as full and fleshy—happiness, joie de vivre, preference, love—are stripped to their skeletons and reduced to abstract ideas.” In Thinking Feeling: Reading, Writing, and Emotion, we will be discussing the ways in which we represent and experience sentiment, suffering, loss, and melancholy, and how our interpretive tools, granted us by fiction and nonfiction alike, help us extend further language more adequate for the expression of subjective experience. We’ll consider oft-used but under-discussed terms like “affect,” “emotion,” “loss,” “difficulty,” “mourning,” and “melancholy,” and explore ways of reading and writing that court the emotive while yet resisting the maudlin. As Freud asks, “… what is the work that mourning performs?” What are the generative possibilities of feelings for history and for politics? What is the creative potential of affect within the field of representation? How might we think about difficult emotions as informing social- and subjective formations in ways that have yet to be realized or fully articulated? Through our readings of Sigmund Freud, Virginia Woolf, Roland Barthes, Kathleen Stewart, Lauren Berlant, Frantz Fanon, Judith Butler, Marilynne Robinson, and Louise Erdrich, we will discover the limits and possibilities of reading, writing, and feeling.