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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

11/17/2022 The Heyman Center, Columbia University / Virtual
6:15 PM
Celebrating Recent Work by Nadia Abu El-Haj
Nadia Abu El-Haj, Barnard College and Columbia University
Speaker Link Abstract


Combat Trauma: Imaginaries of War and Citizenship in post-9/11 America
by Nadia Abu El-Haj

Americans have long been asked to support the troops and care for veterans’ psychological wounds. Who, though, does this injunction serve?

As acclaimed scholar Nadia Abu El-Haj argues here, in the American public’s imagination, the traumatized soldier stands in for destructive wars abroad, with decisive ramifications in the post-9/11 era. Across the political spectrum the language of soldier trauma is used to discuss American warfare, producing a narrative in which traumatized soldiers are the only acknowledged casualties of war, while those killed by American firepower are largely sidelined and forgotten.

In this wide-ranging and fascinating study of the meshing of medicine, science, and politics, Abu El-Haj explores the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder and the history of its medical diagnosis. While antiwar Vietnam War veterans sought to address their psychological pain even as they maintained full awareness of their guilt and responsibility for perpetrating atrocities on the killing fields of Vietnam, by the 1980s, a peculiar convergence of feminist activism against sexual violence and Reagan’s right-wing “war on crime” transformed the idea of PTSD into a condition of victimhood. In so doing, the meaning of Vietnam veterans’ trauma would also shift, moving away from a political space of reckoning with guilt and complicity to one that cast them as blameless victims of a hostile public upon their return home. This is how, in the post-9/11 era of the Wars on Terror, the injunction to "support our troops," came to both sustain US militarism and also shields American civilians from the reality of wars fought ostensibly in their name.

In this compelling and crucial account, Nadia Abu El-Haj challenges us to think anew about the devastations of the post-9/11 era.

This event will be in person at the Heyman Center and live-streamed online. Please register for both in-person and virtual attendance via the link.

Please email to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

Thomas W. Dodman, Columbia University
Speaker Link
Catherine Fennell, Columbia University
Speaker Link
Miriam Ticktin, CUNY Graduate Center
Speaker Link
11/29/2022 Zoom
11:30 AM
Celebrating Feltness by Stephanie Springgay
Stephanie Springgay, McMaster University
Speaker Link Abstract


Please join us for an informal talk and Q&A on Stephanie Springgay's new book, Feltness: Research-Creation, Socially Engaged Art, and Affective Pedagogies. Springgay’s concept of feltness—which emerges from affect theory, queer and feminist theory, and conceptions of more-than-human entanglements—is a set of intimate practices of creating art based on touch, affect, relationality, love, and responsibility. This radical pedagogy can be practiced with diverse publics, including children, who are often left out of conversations about who can learn in radical ways. Redefining who is imagined to be capable of complex feeling, experiential learning, embodied practice, social engagement, and intimate care, feltness fosters learning that disrupts and defamiliarizes schools and institutions, knowledge systems, values, and the legibility of art and research.

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In tandem with our event, Teachers College will host a pedagogy workshop with Prof. Springgay on Monday, November 28, at 3:30 pm. Please let us know if you are interested in attending that event as well.

Stephanie Springgay is Director of the School of the Arts and Associate Professor at McMaster University, author of Body Knowledge and Curriculum: Pedagogies of Touch in Youth and Visual Culture, and coauthor of Walking Methodologies in a More-Than-Human World: WalkingLab.

02/01/2023 Schermerhorn 754, Columbia University
6:00 PM
A Discussion with Ann Cvetkovich on Affect Theory, Indigenous Art and Archives, Co-meeting with the University Seminar on Cultural Memory
Ann Cvetkovich, Carleton University