CFP: Speculative Affect Theory (essay collection; proposal deadline 1 June 2016)

Call for Proposals: Speculative Affect Theory

This Call for Proposals seeks papers linking affect theory with theories of speculative realism, new materialisms, object-oriented ontology, or thing theory. Speculative realism has taught us to view objects and collections of objects as having an existence and potential intentionality beyond human comprehension. As we watch the plastic bottles gathering on Plastic Island or the life preservers of Lifejacket Mountain form patterns of object movement outside of the realm of human action, we ascertain a “thingness” or a vitality to object ontology and can speculate about an object reality that differs from, and is incomprehensible to, our own.
Affect theory explores attachments and emotions as forces beyond conscious knowing. Some affect theorists rethink the body as a relation within an event, as an assemblage of matter and technology, or as a virtual and material realm of non-conscious incipient tendencies and potential intensity, as Brian Massumi argues in Parables for the Virtual (2002). Others link the human with a “thing sensed” in a structural relation, where the flow of sensations encompasses the non-human or the object. These affect theorists bring emotion within the realm of the object, whether affect is conceptualized as “what sticks, or what sustains or preserves the connection between ideas, values, and objects” as Sara Ahmed argues in The Promise of Happiness (2010); or whether affect produces a psychoanalytic halo of promise around the object, as Lauren Berlant theorizes in Cruel Optimism (2011); or whether affect gives a “vibrancy” to the materiality of objects, as Jane Bennett has put forward in Vibrant Matter.

But how far can we take affect theory toward the object and what are the consequences to new materialisms when we bring ideas of affect into conversation with the object? Can we discuss objects as producing or experiencing forms of affect? Can we imagine the rhythmic undulations on Plastic Island or the life preservers in their saturated solidity as expressions of affect at the level of the object? Or do ideas of “object affect” – the joy, thanksgiving, or sexual pleasure of undulating plastic bottles – reproduce the projection of human categories onto things in a way that rearticulates aspects of human subjectivity and moves us away from the object?

This call for proposals invites papers in the fields of cultural and literary theory that develop, articulate, engage with, or critique a concept of “Object Affect,” or “Speculative Affect.” How might we imagine affect closer to, or within, the realm of the “thing”? Under what circumstances can affect be an object condition? How might theories of affect allow us to re-articulate object ontology? What kind of insights might new materialisms provide for our understanding of concepts of affect? What risks do we take when we orient the object toward ideas of affect?

Palgrave Macmillan has expressed interest in publishing this collection as part of its new series: “Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism.”
Potential contributors should email a 250-word proposal or abstract, along with a brief (150-word) biography. The deadline for submission of proposals is June 1, 2016. Papers selected for inclusion in the volume should be completed by December 1, 2016. Please send submissions by email to Charmaine Eddy (

Categories: Non ACCUTE CFPs

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