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Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity

By
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of numerous books including A Dialogue on Love and Epistemology of the Closet. Her books Tendencies; Fat Art, Thin Art, a book of poetry; Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction; and Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader (coedited with Adam Frank) are published by Duke University Press.

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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-8478-6
Publication date:
2003

A pioneer in queer theory and literary studies, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick brings together for the first time in Touching Feeling her most powerful explorations of emotion and expression. In essays that show how her groundbreaking work in queer theory has developed into a deep interest in affect, Sedgwick offers what she calls "tools and techniques for nondualistic thought," in the process touching and transforming such theoretical discourses as psychoanalysis, speech-act theory, Western Buddhism, and the Foucauldian "hermeneutics of suspicion."

In prose sometimes somber, often high-spirited, and always accessible and moving, Touching Feeling interrogates—through virtuoso readings of works by Henry James, J. L. Austin, Judith Butler, the psychologist Silvan Tomkins and others—emotion in many forms. What links the work of teaching to the experience of illness? How can shame become an engine for queer politics, performance, and pleasure? Is sexuality more like an affect or a drive? Is paranoia the only realistic epistemology for modern intellectuals? Ultimately, Sedgwick's unfashionable commitment to the truth of happiness propels a book as open-hearted as it is intellectually daring.

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