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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Spring 2007

WGS 393 • Public Feelings

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

This course explores the role of feelings within public life and the cultural formations that create affective public spheres. We will consider what it means to talk about "public feelings"given the way that the public/private divide has so often consigned feelings to the private sphere. Using resources from Marxism, critical race theory, public sphere theory, human rights discourses, psychoanalysis, feminism, and queer studies, we will explore trauma, sentimentality, mourning and melancholy, human rights, and cultural memory. Of particular significance will be cultural theories that link individual affective experience to social and historical experience. The theoretical work will proceed alongside of an investigation of U.S./ American history as a trauma history, and we will explore cultural materials that track the public memory of traumas such as slavery, the Holocaust, migration and diaspora, human rights violations, AIDS, and sexual violence. Primary texts such as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Toms Cabin and Claude Lanzmanns Shoah will be read alongside of critical readings in order to consider how culture expresses public feelings. We will pay particular attention to the way that debates about cultural and public memory are being transformed in the wake of September 11, which has created an intense popular interest in cultural memory. Public feelings will also be a rubric for exploring the intersections of gender, sexuality and constructions of U.S. national identity. Through a particular emphasis on gay, lesbian, and feminist materials, the course will ask how trauma and affect redefine the public spheres of American culture. Students will have an opportunity to work on areas of their own choosing, and this course will be adaptable to a range of specializations. The course's interdisciplinarity will also be a subject for discussion, as we consider the role of categories such as trauma and feeling within the discipline of literary studies. Useful books and collections: Ann Cvetkovich and Ann Pellegrini, eds. Public SentimentsThe Scholar and the Feminist Online 2:1 David Eng and David Kazanjian, eds. Loss Cathy Davidson, ed, No More Separate Spheres! Jurgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project Marita Sturken, Tangled Memories Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters Cathy Caruth ed, Trauma: Explorations in Memory Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub, Testimony Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings Eve Sedgwick, Touching Feeling Articles and book chapters by Wendy Brown, Lauren Berlant, Saidiya Hartman, Linda Williams, Phil Harper, Jose Munoz, Anne Cheng, Allen Feldman, Douglas Crimp, Jill Dolan, and others Case History texts: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin Slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs Claude Lanzmann, Shoah Art Spiegelman, Maus Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure Requirements: Regular short response papers Lead class discussion once or twice (depending on class size) Final project: seminar paper, conference paper, or annotated bibliography. Work for final project will include brief preliminary assignments such as a proposal, a report on secondary reading, and draft materials in order to workshop the project in the class.


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