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Affect theory too shows considerable diversity in the theories and conclusions of its various practitioners. Indeed, even more than affective science, it is arguably not a unified field so much as an historically contingent set of approaches partially shared by authors with similarities in background and interest. For example, affect theory has developed out of or at least in dialogue with cultural studies. This means that it has typically been concerned with political issues much more centrally than has been the case with affective science.

Moreover, the work of many affect theorists is marked more strongly by the historical poststructuralism of Michel Foucault or the linguistic poststructuralism of Jacques Derrida. Of course, not everyone writing on affect and literature falls neatly into one or the other group. Moreover, a number of writers associated with affect theory make selective use of affective science, while critics associated with affective science have taken up political and cultural topics.

Again, in contrast with affective science, affect theory draws more commonly, if often implicitly, on psychoanalysis. More precisely, it has developed within an intellectual lineage that derives in part from psychoanalysis, even when psychoanalysis is not an explicit source or when it is an object of criticism. In psychoanalytic tradition, affect is understood in relation to a prior conception of fundamental drives.

These are conceptualized as flows of energy that may be strong or weak, may exert pressure, and may be blocked or diverted. In this model, affects are produced by a combination of the force and direction of instinctual energies—as they bear on particular objects—and the counterforces of blockage, redirection, etc. For example, the blocking of sexual desire by the external world might give rise to frustration-based anger. But once placed in the context of the psychoanalytic idea, it begins to make more sense even if the obscurities are not entirely cleared up.

In addition to criticizing standard psychoanalysis, Deleuze and Guattari engaged in critiques of social and political structures. This politicization of psychology contributes to the orientation of affect theory toward social critique, as integrated with cultural studies as well as the critical approaches to institutions and language found in the work of Foucault and Derrida, among others. In sum, affect theory commonly draws on sometimes implicit psychoanalytic models of motivation and affect, with their hydraulic metaphors. It combines these with a politically oriented critique of institutions, discourses, and other social structures and practices.

In contrast, affective science tries to articulate a more clearly naturalistic ultimately brain-based account of affect, derived from empirical study and detailed analysis of cognitive and affective processes. It does not as often involve political criticism. The advantage of affective science is that it presents algorithmically specified, empirically supported, logically rigorous accounts of emotion. It is difficult to make such a claim for affect theory, given its often metaphorical quality, the problems with empirical support for psychoanalysis, 19 the apparent oversimplicity of the hydraulic model often borrowed by affect theorists , 20 the questionable linguistic presuppositions of deconstruction, 21 and other issues.

Affective science presents a more clearly cohesive field of study, with more simply and systematically distinguishable alternatives, which is advantageous for a necessarily limited conceptual overview, such as the present article. The advantages of affect theory, however, come with its arguably greater diversity and even more with its vigorous political engagement. Among other things, it more readily fosters a critical attitude toward some unquestioned presuppositions of empirical science and its associated institutional structures that can lead to systematic biases.

We may distinguish three areas in which affect theorists are likely to engage in critique: social ideology, language, and general mental operations or contents e.

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All three have potentially valuable consequences for the study of literature and emotion. This is not to say that critiques in affect theory are always well founded. Nor is it to say that political critique is absent from cognitive science. The social psychology of groups, conceptual metaphor theory, and the psychology of heuristics and biases treating social ideology, language, and general mental operations, respectively are but three instances of research programs engaging in such criticism.

This is an important qualification that readers should keep in mind while considering the following discussions of affective science. Of course, the political engagement of affect theory is not merely general or institutional. It bears on individual literary works as well. It changes the sorts of questions we might ask about literary works, the sorts of evidence we might invoke, and the sorts of conclusions we might draw.

Attitudes are more or less enduring emotional responses to particular objects or conditions an interpersonal stance is in effect a form of attitude. Trait affectivity has long been a significant part of character analysis, perhaps most obviously in the form of humoral psychology—for example, in its relation to Renaissance drama, as in the identification of Hamlet as melancholic. It is certainly valuable to take into account the psychological theories circulating at the time a given author was writing.

An attachment style is a disposition to form bonds of affection in a certain way, fundamentally secure or insecure. Mood bears not only on characters, but also on literary works more broadly. Perhaps the most important thing to recognize here is that moods are often complex, the result of a number of distinct emotional sensitivities, such that the resulting inclinations are a matter of networks of emotion.

Finally, attitudes bear significantly on our response to literature. This is frequently related to identity group divisions.

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Broadly speaking, our initial response to in-group members e. Our literary response may require empathy that is inhibited by identity group divisions. When I read the poem in English, then part of the Chinese original, one student continually giggled and rolled her eyes. I suspect that this was in part the result of an empathic inhibition due to out-grouping the poet.

Again, the preceding account of affect presupposes an account of emotion. There are in fact several competing accounts of emotion in affective science. Simplifying the diversity in the field, we may organize the options into two large alternatives along two axes. The first is a matter of the large structures of the human mind; the second is a matter of the key processes that engage those structures. Phenomenologically, valence is a matter of pleasant versus unpleasant experience; arousal is a more simply a matter of high energy versus low energy.

Behaviorally, valence is a matter of an inclination to maintain a state or situation versus an inclination to change it; arousal is an inclination toward motor activity versus a disinclination. Different ordinary language categories of emotion may be mapped onto a conceptual grid using these dimensions.

Dimensional accounts may lose something in elegance but gain in explanatory capacity as they add further dimensions. Rather, anxiety would seem to involve at least two other factors both cognitive, rather than narrowly affective, though with clear affective consequences. First, there is a temporal dimension. One is anxious about the future, not about the past. What is most significant in the present context is that the preceding points suggest a connection with literary experience. Specifically, in a dimensional account, anxiety—either egoistic i. Given the right intensity of preference, and an adequately aversive quality to the alternatives e.

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If anxiety is indeed related to suspense, this already begins to give us a potentially fuller understanding of anxiety in its relation to the subjective likelihood of preferred outcomes and the emotions inspired by salient alternatives. But that is not all there is to the issue. The study of literary and cinematic suspense alerts us to the great importance not only of overarching goal pursuit, but of detailed, moment-to-moment interactions, the particulars of the narrative trajectory.

These are presumably no less important in anxiety than in suspense. Finally, literature and film may give us not only targeted suspense e. They may also give us more generalized and undirected feelings of foreboding due for example to the use of music in a film. In other words, this may be an example of how the study of literature may contribute materially to our understanding of general psychological processes.

A dimensional approach may have consequences for concrete interpretation as well. But there are striking differences between them, differences made salient by an awareness of emotion dimensions. Both poems express a high degree of unpleasantness.


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For example, the speaker wonders who will stand and pick a flower at her home, suggesting that she herself lacks the energy for even this minimal exertion. This points toward a suggestive ambiguity. The difference is presumably not merely a matter of these two poems, but of kinds of grief as well. Along with the preceding example regarding anxiety and suspense , these observations suggest that the incorporation of dimensional analysis into literary study promises to be beneficial for both the understanding of emotion and the understanding of literature.

This is not to say, however, that such mutual benefits are confined to dimensional accounts. Indeed, despite the apparent attitudes of their advocates, dimensional and systemic accounts are not irreconcilable.

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To the contrary, the dimensions could simply apply across systems—disgust, fear, anger, and so on—as part of what makes all of those systems emotional. Systemic accounts commonly presuppose the variables invoked by dimensional theories, but link them to innate or sometimes acquired complexes of distinctive feelings, action tendencies, and so on. For the most part, our usual, pre-theoretical approaches to emotion and literature are systemic, presupposing the existence of fear, anger, disgust, and so forth, as fundamental categories.

The situation is similar with the second axis of difference in theories of emotion—that is, the nature of causal processes invoked to explain emotion episodes. The most common account of emotion in affective science is one or another version of appraisal theory.

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Appraisal theories suggest the importance of general trends or statistical likelihood. In contrast, perceptual-associative theories emphasize concrete particulars. For example, in one perceptual-associative account, 40 there are three sources of emotion system activation: innate sensitivities, critical period experiences, and emotional memories.

Innate sensitivities include not only responsiveness to physical pleasure and pain, but also among others our receptivity to the emotion expressions of other people and our susceptibility to emotion contagion from witnessing those expressions.

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Critical period experiences are early events that have enduring organizational and dispositional consequences for our emotional systems, such as an inclination toward secure or insecure attachment bonding. Emotional memories are memories that, upon activation, revive the initial emotion itself as when the recollection of an automobile accident revives the sense of panic that accompanied the past experience.

Appraisal theories appear to have the advantage in many complex social cases. For example, Jones reads a letter denying his application for tenure and is devastated.


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It seems plausible to see this as a function of his judgment that his flourishing has suffered a keen blow. Perceptual-associative theories, however, appear to have the advantage in cases where we respond to stimuli in ways that go against our assessments—as when someone fears flying more than driving, despite knowing that the former is much safer.

http://kick-cocoa.info/components/qecehison/quwi-copiare-la.php The two accounts may be partially reconciled, however, by noting that appraisal can be incorporated into a perceptual-associative account. Appraisal processes involve concrete simulations e. The difference is that, in the perceptual-associative theory, it is not the logic of the appraisal that produces the emotion; it is, rather, the concrete imaginations and recollections accompanying the appraisal that do so.

Technically, he simulated a future for the boy and he now realizes that the imagined future cannot be realized, with painful consequences for his own flourishing. But later lines of the poem suggest limitations of the appraisal account. To me, this sentence is a devastating cry of despair, rendered all the more pathetic by its grammatical peculiarity.

The phrase is ambiguous.