Bridging the Affect/Emotion Divide: A Critical Overview of the Affective Turn

Stenner, Paul (2018). Bridging the Affect/Emotion Divide: A Critical Overview of the Affective Turn. In: Zhang, Lei and Clark, Carlton eds. Affect, Emotion and Rhetorical Persuasion in Mass Communication. London: Routledge, pp. 34–55.

URL: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/978135124236...

Abstract

A veritable torrent of academic activity has recently identified itself as being part of a turn to affect. However, the concept of affect at play in this work is neither singular nor clear. This confusion is acknowledged by key figures within the affective turn. Seigworth and Gregg, for example, state that “first encounters with theories of affect might feel like a momentary (sometimes more permanent) methodological and conceptual free fall.” The main section of this chapter will provide an overview of three key sources of the affective turn, each of which presents a different concept of affect (affect as autonomous virtual intensity, as drive amplification, and as unconscious psychic energy). Through a critique of Massumi’s affect/emotion distinction, I will then question perhaps the one thing that scholars of the affective turn appear to agree about: that affect and emotion are two very different things.

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