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More than a feeling: affect, narrative, neoliberalism

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Title
More than a feeling: affect, narrative, neoliberalism
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Smith
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Rachel
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Rachel Smith
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Richard
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Richard Dienst
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DeKoven
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Marianne
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Marianne DeKoven
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McClure
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John
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John McClure
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Clough
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Patricia
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Advisory Committee
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Patricia T. Clough
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Rutgers University
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Graduate School - New Brunswick
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theses
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2008
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2008-10
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English
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electronic
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vi, 206 pages
Abstract
This project examines a range of affective states as they are constructed in works of American literature and visual media. Focusing on affects that are implicated in processes of change -- fear, grief, perseverance, curiosity, and love -- it argues for the relevance of these transitional feelings to a cultural critique of neoliberalism. Proponents of neoliberalism emphasize values of autonomy, freedom, and progress, which paradoxically have also provided the traditional basis for humanist projects of resistance. When works of literature address change, the emotions and other bodily responses that emerge are often shaded with suffering and hesitation, and do not translate directly into recognizable forms of agency. Yet these seemingly passive modes of being are anything but static; security and predictability dissolve in these difficult states of transition. This entails pain, but also potential -- sadness, but also possibility.
Literary works such as Don DeLillo's The Body Artist and Tony Kushner's Angels in America produce states of suffering that contradict the neoliberal assumption that appeals to change must call upon active expressions of individual agency. These works produce other corporeal sensations -- grief and perseverance -- that suggest modes of collective feeling at once strongly tied to transformative experiences and withdrawn from conventional forms of active production. Works of visual media from sources as diverse as television, contemporary cinema, and medical imaging produce other affects, among them fear and curiosity, which play pivotal roles in the neoliberal naturalization of progress. Yet some cultural constructions of curiosity, for example, also suggest that the desire for knowledge might produce new forms of social connection even within the very practices of neoliberal control.
As cultural critics contend with these states of feeling, the affects produced by critique itself are at stake. This project concludes with an exploration of contemporary experiments in critical form that envision critique as a practice of love, forging unexpected links and untimely encounters with the world of events. The dissertation thus pursues a loose narrative that traces one possible affective trajectory from crisis to continuity, from breaking habitual structures of experience to forming new modes of social engagement and thought.
Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 200-205).
Subject (ID = SUBJ1); (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Literatures in English
Subject (ID = SUBJ2); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
American literature--20th century--History and criticism
Subject (ID = SUBJ3); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Emotions in literature
Subject (ID = SUBJ4); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Expression in literature
Subject (ID = SUBJ5); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Affect (Psychology)
Subject (ID = SUBJ6); (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Neoliberalism
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Graduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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rucore19991600001
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http://hdl.rutgers.edu/1782.2/rucore10001600001.ETD.17572
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ETD_1040
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Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T3QZ2B79
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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Rachel Smith
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Rutgers University. Graduate School - New Brunswick
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I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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