Athenea Digital (Jul 2020)

Affect Theory with Literature and Art: Between and Beyond Representation.

  • Sandra Moyano Ariza

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 20, no. 2


Read online

This paper maps the intersection of affect theory with literature and art through the revision of the question of representation and its crisis, which has been central in theorizing literary and art concerns. I propose that affect theory reinvigorates the problematic of representation by turning it into a debate about mediation, producing two main gestures in criticism when it gets in contact with literary and art works. On the one hand, some scholarship has stayed “between representation” by looking at affect as excessive of cognitive processes to analyze and expand how affect influences our representations of these processes, both when reading and doing literary criticism, and when elaborating epistemological paradigms. On the other, criticism has also attempted to step “beyond representation” by looking at affect as an autonomous third entity in mediation with capacities to affect and surpass human cognition. In treating affect as a new capacious entity when approaching the issue of representation, the critical concerns informing this gesture revolve around ontological questions, and they prioritize what affect is and does to bodies more than what it means.