AAR Exploratory Session: The Affective Turn in Religious Studies

We are pleased to announce an AAR exploratory session on “The Affective Turn in Religious Studies.” The session will examine the contemporary affective turn across the humanities and social sciences and its relevance for religious studies. The turn to affect considers unconscious, non-linguistic, pre-personal forces that “affect” the creation of subjects.  Some branches of the emerging canon of affect theory look at named emotions such as shame, anger, or happiness, drawing them out as central categories of analysis.  Other affect theorists explore how media, culture, and politics create selves beneath the level of discourse or ideology.

Affect theory is the staging ground for an interdisciplinary conversation bringing together comparative literature (Lauren Berlant), anthropology (Kathleen Stewart), queer theory (Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick), decolonial studies (Sara Ahmed), feminism (Teresa Brennan), cultural studies (Lawrence Grossberg, William Connolly), media studies (Patricia Clough), and critical race theory (Sianne Ngai). Although some affect theorists have begun to engage with religion (such as Sara Ahmed, William Connolly, and the late Eve Sedgwick), this session will examine affect theory from the perspective of religious studies.

Four short papers each suggesting a different angle for connecting religious studies and the study of affect will be presented, with discussion to follow.

Abigail Kluchin, Columbia University
Irreducible Intensities: Affect Theory as Unwitting Theology

Donovan Schaefer, Haverford College
What Does It Feel Like to Be an Atheist? Affective Disciplines of Belief and Disbelief

M. Gail Hamner, Syracuse University
Religion in the Public Sphere: The Image-Flesh Assemblage of our National Imaginary

Jenna Supp-Montgomerie, University of North Carolina
Quilting Points: How Religion Makes Meaning in American Globalization

The exploratory session will be held from 5-6:30 pm on Sunday, November 18th in the McCormick West.  Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Wesleyan University, will preside.

For more information, please follow this link to the AAR program guide or email [email protected]

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