Summer Semester 2020

Thursdays, 13-15

Sana Chavoshian||

This course draws on conceptualizations of “affect” and “atmosphere” and their recent developments in the fields of cultural sociology and anthropology. Social theorists from Durkheim and Tarde onward have considered questions of bodies, sensation, emotion, and social change. The 1980s were marked by reflections on native concepts of emotion, and by the radical decision made by some sociologists and anthropologists to locate emotion in discourse and to repudiate psychological concerns. In recent years, the “affective turn” in the social sciences has brought renewed attention to these conceptual dynamics. Affect might enable us to grasp how it feels to inhabit a life world, a particular atmosphere, texture, sensuality and feeling of things. For some, affect is contrasted with emotion: it is potential and emergent, not set cultural meaning. For others, affect is contrasted with structure or form: it is bodily sensation or intensity. 

This course will introduce some of the foundations of the concept and explores a range of theories engaging with affect. It focuses on what work the “affective turn” does in anthropology and cultural sociology –why it emerges at certain disciplinary junctures; Which nodes of human experience, state practices, regimes of knowledge and modalities of senses, are involved.

The emphasis of this course will be the relation between affect and atmosphere; this allow us to articulate methodological possibilities for exploring spatial feelings and tuned spaces. While affects refers to the ways in which bodies relate to each other and how material objects influence their environment, through capturing atmosphere we point out the ways by which a multiplicity of bodies can be socially (re)situated. Readings will track between theoretical essays, methodological writings and ethnographic representations of affect, atmosphere and emotion. This course takes its aim to enable students to read independently theoretical texts working with the idea of affect and to contextualize it in a broad range of theoretical debate and empirical research. 

Navaro,Yael. 2012. The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity. New York: Duke University Press

Von Scheve, Christian & Jan Slaby. 2019. Affective Societies: Key Concepts. London & New York: Routledge.

Böhme, Gernot 1995. Atmosphäre: Essays zur neuen Ästhetik. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp

Bille, Mikkel; Bjerregaard, Peter & Tim Flohr Sørensen. 2015. Staging atmospheres: Materiality, culture, and the texture of the in-between. Emotion, Space and Society, 15: 31-38.


Semester: ST 2020