• Entangled States: Putting Affect Theory into Play with Nnedi Okorafor and Ann Leckie

    Laurie Ringer (see profile)
    GS Speculative Fiction, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Culture and Society, Speculative and Science Fiction, TC Cognitive and Affect Studies, TM Literary and Cultural Theory
    Affect (Psychology), Science fiction, Critical theory, Literature--Theory, etc., Criticism, Literature--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    PCA: Meeting of the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association
    Conf. Org.:
    Popular Culture Association
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    28-31 March 2018
    Nnedi Okorafor, Ann Leckie, Binti trilogy, Imperial Radch, entangled states, Theories of affect, Literary therory and criticism, Teaching literature
    Permanent URL:
    Whatever your theory and whatever your fandom, you don’t have to abandon it to do affect theory. This is because affect theory isn’t about telling you which side to pick in an agonistic contest; it’s about finding out what a body can do as it moves with other bodies in entangled states, whether or not we notice them. Affect theory offers more fluid notions of subjectivity, more flexible ways of reading, and the opportunity for research to surprise us in ways that science fiction and fantasy surprise us. These entangled states are like what happens in Star Wars when a pilot jumps from realspace to hyperspace, or in Star Trek when the captain switches from impulse power to warp speed. In those moments everything, including survival, is at stake. I’ve been exploring how affect theory works with speculative fiction, and part of my work includes collecting terminologies and finding ways to describe what affect theory does, in academic writing and in the university classroom. The best ways to describe what happens when we do affect theory come from science fiction and fantasy. So SFF is totally cannon for affect theory. Deleuze and Guattari collide bad B-movies with Virginia Woolf, folk music and bird song, math and literature, physics and art, geology and psychoanalysis, philosophy and speculative fiction, including witches, zombies, werewolves, and vampires. So the sentient spaceships in Nnedi Okorafor and Ann Leckie are right at home. It’s not that anything goes; it’s that affect theory notices things that academics aren’t usually in the habit of noticing.
    Find a more formal exploration of these ideas -- in relation to John Burnside's A Summer of Drowning -- in a forthcoming article in the Journal of European Popular Culture 9.1. An an article that focuses on Nnedi Okorafor, Ann Leckie, and Becky Chambers is also in preparation.
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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