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COMMRC 1730. The Communication of Affect.

1. Introduction to the course.

Mark Paterson

on 7 January 2014

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Transcript of COMMRC 1730. The Communication of Affect.

for next week
COMMRC 1730.
Communication of Affect.

Photo based on: 'horizon' by pierreyves @ flickr

This is the site to consult for announcements, updates, information for Assignments and download handouts, and to post writing samples, discuss ideas, and share resources.
The experiment
Course Blog

Start notating examples from everyday life experience. Get a small, pocket-sized notepad.
Visit the Blog. Acquire books!
Write 300 words that pinpoint and describe a notable affect or emotional experience that happened in 2013.
Thursday/Next week: Everyone will read this out within their group.
Writing about affects...

is an experiment, not a judgement. Committed not to the demystification and uncovered truths that support a well-known picture of the world, but rather to speculation, curiosity, and the concrete, it tries to provoke attention to the forces that come into view as habit or shock, resonance or impact.
throws itself together in a moment as an event and a sensation; a
both animated and inhabitable.


What are 'affects'?
The ordinary is a shifting assemblage of practices and practical knowledges, a scene of both liveness and exhaustion, a dream of escape or of the simple life. Ordinary affects are the varying, surging capacities to affect and to be affected that give everyday life the quality of a continual motion of relations, scenes, contingencies and emergences. They're things that happen. They happen in impulses, sensations, expectations, daydreams, encounters, and habits of relating, in strategies and their failures, in forms of persuasion, contagion and compulsion, in modes of attention, attachment and agency, and in publics and social worlds of all kinds that catch people up in something that feels like
the 'ordinary'
To attend to ordinary affects is to trace how the potency of forces lies in their immanence to things that are both flighty and hardwired, shifty and unsteady but palpable too. At once abstract and concrete, ordinary affects are more directly compelling than ideologies, as well as more fractious, multiplicitous, and unpredictable than symbolic meanings. They are not the kind of analytic object that can be laid out on a single, static plane of analysis... They are, instead, a problem or question emergent in disparate scenes and incommensurate forms and registers; a tangle of potential connections.
Attending to affects
For the book [and this course]: "I am trying to create a contact zone for analysis"
a contact zone
the project of ethnography
everyday life
michel de certeau
henri lefebvre
pierre bourdieu
'Ethnography' as the writing of anthropological text


"ficto-critical stories" such as Leslie Stern, Stephen Muecke, Alphonso Lingis marry theory and rich description
Writing Class
Continued attendance is critical.

Writing and talking about key emotional and affective moments, analysing them together. Honesty and trust are displayed in returning to each class and reflecting upon how better to write and articulate such experience

This is a fast-moving course with an intensive reading component which will include many in-class exercises and examples. It also involves preparation and activities outside of the classroom, in terms of assignments. Your full participation is required to get the utmost benefit. This course also requires the unique perspective that students generally bring to this topic of communication. You will therefore be required not only to simply attend, but also to contribute to class discussions.

In order to attend and meaningfully contribute towards discussions, you need to budget some time each week for reading and writing. For these reasons, attendance in class is mandatory, and
participation counts for 10% of the course grade
. You will not be graded on attendance
per se
, but a sign-up sheet will be circulated at every class, and I do take note of who is contributing regularly.
Sylvan Tomkins
Affect is a psychological term for an observable expression of emotion.

From the
Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health

A person’s affect is the expression of emotion or feelings displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, voice tone, and other emotional signs such as laughter or tears. Individual affect fluctuates according to emotional state. What is considered a normal range of affect, called the broad affect, varies from culture to culture, and even within a culture. Certain individuals may gesture prolifically while talking, and display dramatic facial expressions in reaction to social situations or other stimuli. Others may show little outward response to social environments or interactions, expressing a narrow range of emotions to the outside world.
What are 'affects'?
1. Autoethnographic Essay (1500 words, 10%. Submit by January 30).

2. Reading Report on Stewart’s
Ordinary Affects
(or another approved reading) that deals with affects or emotions (2000 words, 20%. Complete by February 27). Write this in a way that complements or contests ideas presented in the lecture classes.

3. Final Essay on an approved topic, building upon previous assignments (3,000-4,000 words, 60%. Hand in April 17). This is a substantial piece of writing that will marry some creative autoethnographic writing with a theoretical framework that deals with affects and/or emotions, effectively building upon the previous two assignments.

4. Class Participation (including attendance and active discussion, 10%).
Handouts will be made available through the course blog weeks ahead of the assignment deadlines, and a portion of preceding classes will address the upcoming assignment.
Full transcript