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This chapter argues that affect underpins the possibility of the development of the self-possessed, liberal individual known as Man, and for this reason, scientists, writers, and reformers have scripted affect into the mechanisms of race and gender difference. This essay first turns to the overlooked role of affect in constructing the nineteenth-century discourse of biological race and sex difference by elaborating on the concept of impressibility. The chapter uncovers how the capacity to absorb impressions underwrote the modern notions of biological race and sex difference. It then turns to the twentieth-century notion of gender as developed by sexologists. Tracing commonalities across these distinct periods, the chapter exposes affect to lie at the core of humanism's sensory-energetic regime. To understand the intersecting dynamic of the notions of race and sex difference requires interrogating political and scientific uses of affect to delimit the basic capacities of life and universal energy.

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