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This seminar seeks to bring together scholars in the fields and subfields that have been touched by a growing interest in the emotional or affective experience, whether understood as embodied or incorporeal, emotional or impersonal, quantifiable or escaping measurement. This inter/multidisciplinary seminar on affect will incorporate a wide range of approaches and topics across disciplines and periods. We aim to provide a forum for a discussion of affect in the arts, sciences, history, psychology, philosophy, ecology, queer/feminist studies and social theory, among others, as well as a means to historicize how affect and emotion have served in religious, social, and political contexts in different periods and locales, from Antiquity to contemporary life. We feel that fostering interdisciplinary exchange on the question of affect is vital for understanding the many valences of affect studies’ vocabulary and concerns.

Patricia Dailey

Thomas Dodman

Lauren Mancia

Alec Joyner

Meeting Schedule

09/21/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
6:00 PM
Lovebirds: Avian Erotic Entanglements in Medieval French and Occitan Literature, Joint meeting with (431)
Eliza Zingesser, Columbia University


In this talk, I will explore how birds supply erotic affects and drives in medieval French and Occitan literature. I argue that erotic desire and pleasure are frequently both mimetic, in the sense that the human subject has to learn them from a bird, as well as interspecial— interspecial since both are staged as contingent on certain conditions (the hearing of birdsong) and on a certain set of relations (between the human poetic subject and the bird). Although the characters in these texts do not orient their desire towards the same object as the bird, they nevertheless learn how to desire, and that they should desire, through an encounter with birdsong. I argue that troubadour love songs, especially, rely on birds as a motor for erotic affects, a trait that the trouvères reacted against by professing their indifference to birdsong. The fact that such alleged indifference became a topos in its own right and, in this sense, expected, represents another type of reliance on birds. I show, further, that this affective dependence is often coterminous with a strange spatiality, where inside and outside blur and the distinction between human and avian subjects becomes difficult to determine.

02/09/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
12:00 PM
The Affective Academic
Donovan Schaefer,

Respondent: Sarah Garth van den Berg, Teachers College

Respondent: Lauren Mancia, Brooklyn College

Moderator: Tricia Dailey, Columbia University

03/06/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
12:00 PM
Affect, Passion, Emotion: A Psychoanalytic Perspective
Marcus Coelen, ICI Berlin