19th Oct 2016 5:30pm-7:00pm

Grand Parade, 202. Room Open 5pm

In the wake of the ‘turn to affect’ compelling scholarly work has explored the vital role affect, emotion and feeling might play in catalyzing radical social and political change. Such narratives of ‘affective revolution’ are often rich and inspiring. I argue, however, that some of these analyses may actually do more to obscure than to enrich our understanding of the material relations and routines though which ‘progressive’ change might occur and endure in a given context – while side-stepping the challenge of how to evaluate progress itself in the current socio-political and economic landscape. Drawing on the work of Eve Sedgwick (1996, 2003, 2011), John Dewey ([1922]2012), Felix Ravaisson ([1838]2008) and others, this talk will ask whether critical work on habit can provide different, and potentially fruitful, conceptual terrain for understanding the contemporary ethical and material complexities of social stasis and transformation. I will also explore how bringing affect and habit together might productively refigure our understandings of ‘the present’ and ‘social progress’, as well as the available modes of sensing, instigating and responding to change. In turning to habit, then, my primary aim is to examine how social and cultural theory might critically re-approach both social change and progressive politics today.

Carolyn Pedwell is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies and Cultural Sociology in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent, UK. She is the author of Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave, 2014) and Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetoric of Comparison (Routledge, 2010). Carolyn is an editor of Feminist Theory journal and has been AHRC Visiting Fellow at the Department for Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney and The Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London.

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