Fluet’s essay develops a survey of the argumentative claims of the area of affect studies devoted specifically to the assessment, and critique, of “happiness.” The central focus is a review of Sara Ahmed’s study The Promise of Happiness (2010), which Fluet places within the context of queer theoretical studies of affect and futurity (Heather Love, Lee Edelman, Sianne Ngai); postcolonial studies of melancholy (Paul Gilroy); and competing critical approaches to both happiness (Martha Nussbaum) and the “not-happy” consequences of traumatic histories (Carolyn Kay Steedman). The essay argues that Ahmed’s substantial investigation focuses necessary attention upon the ways in which both the work ethic and, agreed-upon, “acceptable” levels of injustice for some members of a given population form a part of the genealogy of happiness as critical keyword. The concept of “care”—for a future in which the not-happy subject is prevented from forming any kind of investment—thereby becomes a way to envision a form of praxis particular to the not-happy subject. The essay also suggests that greater attention to the need for critical “triage” when analyzing the relative intellectual recuperability of different forms of bad affect needs to be factored into Ahmed’s critical discussions of specific unhappy types—the feminist killjoy, the unhappy queer, and the melancholic migrant—within her chosen contexts of literature, film, and popular culture.

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