Issue 2.1 Homepage

Article Contents
·Public Sentiments
·Archives of Trauma
·Aftersight: Photographic Remains
·Afterwords: Testimony in the Public Sphere
·Documenting AIDS Activism
·Performance Works
·Audience Making: Affect and Effect
·World Making: Performance and Cultural Formation
·Feeling Public
·Open Endings: Towards Hope
·Works Cited

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Ann Cvetkovich and Ann Pellegrini, "Introduction" (page 4 of 4)

Open Endings: Towards Hope

Throughout this special issue, we - an enlarged "we" of writers and readers - have been challenged to consider how and to what ends a given performance of feeling might move a public to action. But, what action exactly? As the essays here argue, and as recent history cautions, the "same" emotion - mourning, for example - may be mobilized to democratic and anti-democratic ends. So, what forms of performance and action, including theatrical performance and action, are appropriate to projects of social justice and democratic inclusion? Certainly, this special issue offers hopeful glimpses of theatre and performance as sites of public sentiments and as projects of social justice. But, the hopefulness many of the contributors evince about the possibility of connecting public sentiments to social justice does not blind us to the many ways emotion has been, and continues to be, harnessed to state violence. The essays gathered here are not the last word on any of these issues, but are offered as a spark to what we hope will be a more general project of exploring public sentiments, of bringing affect into discussions of social and cultural phenomena, and, perhaps, just perhaps, of forging alternative possibilities, for emotional as for public life.


1. For more on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, see Berlant and Duggan. [Return to text]

2. News outlets, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also taken to referring to "the war on terror." To take just one example: as this introduction was being completed, was featuring a special report entitled "War on Terror." [Return to text]

3. For more on national affect and public feeling, see Berlant's The Queen of America Goes to Washington City and "The Subject of True Feeling." Berlant's work in this area has been an inspiration for this project as a whole. And for another interesting approach to affect as a national category, see José Esteban Muñoz's developing work on Latino identity as an affective category in "Feeling Brown." [Return to text]

4. For an excellent overview of the separate spheres debate and a call to move beyond this model, see Cathy N. Davidson, No More Separate Spheres!. [Return to text]

5. The scholarship on feminism, sentimentality, and slavery is vast, but a representative survey of important contributions would include Ann Douglas's much critiqued dismissal of sentimentality and mass culture; Jane Tompkins's reevaluation of "sentimental power" in Uncle Tom's Cabin; Karen Sánchez-Eppler's discussion of the relation between abolition and feminism; Hortense Spillers's and Saidiya Hartman's writing on slave narrative; Shirley Samuels' edited collection on sentimental culture; Avery Gordon's discussion of ghosts and haunting in Beloved; Lora Romero's incisive observations about the impasse between subversion and containment in assessments of sentimentality; Linda Williams's history of race and melodrama in U.S. culture; Lauren Berlant's ambitious overview of sentimental culture (in "Poor Eliza"). [Return to text]

6. For rich discussions of the stake of designating an event as "genocide," see Nichanian, and Kazanjian and Nichanian. [Return to text]

7. Cathy Caruth and Felman and Laub have become virtually canonical in constituting a field of trauma studies. Other important texts in this area include Allan Young's historical overview and Ruth Leys's genealogical history, as well as Judith Herman's feminist approach. While this work is undeniably significant, it often remains tied to the Holocaust as event, and psychoanalysis as methodology. We would like to propose other sites of thinking about trauma that don't necessarily name it as such; especially important is work on race such as that by Spillers, Gordon, Hartman, Holland, and Eng and Kazanjian. For more on this issue, see Cvetkovich. [Return to text]

8. For provocative discussions - and critiques - of the project of collecting testimony in the South African context, see Mark Sanders and Yvette Christiansë in Eng and Kazanjian. [Return to text]

9. For more on this issue, see Cvetkovich. [Return to text]

10. See Cvetkovich's discussion of this in Greenberg. [Return to text]

11. Ann Pellegrini, "Staging Sexual Injury: How I Learned to Drive," in Reinelt and Roach. Much of this paragraph is directly quoted from that essay. [Return to text]

12. In an important essay on theatre and utopia, feminist theatre studies scholar Jill Dolan has suggested that theatre's affective power is central to what she calls a "utopian performative." Dolan writes: "I believe that theater and performance can articulate a common future, one that's more just and equitable, one in which we can participate more equally, with more chances to live fully and contribute to the making of culture. I'd like to argue that such desire to be part of the intense present of performance offers us, if not expressly political then usefully emotional, expressions of what utopia might feel like" (455-56). [Return to text]

13. For more on this point, see José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications. [Return to text]

14. On performative writing, see Phelan and Serematakis. [Return to text]

Works Cited

Berlant, Lauren. The Queen of America Goes to Washington City. Durham: Duke UP, 1997.

Berlant, Lauren. "Poor Eliza." No More Separate Spheres! Ed. Cathy N. Davidson.

Berlant, Lauren. "The Subject of True Feeling." Feminist Consequences: Theory for the New Century. Ed. Elisabeth Bronfen and Misha Kavka. New York: Columbia UP, 2001. 126-60.

Berlant, Lauren and Lisa Duggan, eds. Our Monica, Ourselves. The Clinton Affair and the National Interest. New York: New York UP, 2001.

Caruth, Cathy, ed. Trauma: Explorations in Memory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1995.

Caruth, Cathy. Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1996.

Christiansë, Yvette. "Passing Away: The Unspeakable (Losses) of Postapartheid South Africa." Loss: The Politics of Mourning. Ed. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2003. 372-95.

Crimp, Douglas. "Mourning and Militancy." October 51 (Winter 1998): 3-18.

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham: Duke UP, 2003.

Cvetkovich, Ann. "Trauma Ongoing." Trauma at Home: After 9/11. Ed. Judith Greenberg. 60-66.

Davidson, Cathy N., ed. No More Separate Spheres! Durham: Duke UP, 2002.

Dolan, Jill. "Performance, Utopia, and the 'Utopian Performative'." Theatre Journal 53:3 (October 2001), 455-80.

Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Eng, David L., and David Kazanjian. Loss: The Politics of Mourning. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2003.

Felman, Shoshana and Dori Laub. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Fuss, Diana. Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature and Difference. New York: Routledge, 1989.

Gordon, Avery. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1997.

Greenberg, Judith, ed. Trauma at Home: After 9/11. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2003.

Harper, Phillip Brian. "The Evidence of Felt Intuition: Minority Experience, Everyday Life, and Critical Speculative Knowledge." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 6:4 (2000), 641-57.

Hartman, Saidiya. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997.

Holland, Sharon P. Raising the Dead: Readings of Death and (Black) Subjectivity. Durham: Duke UP, 2000.

Jakobsen, Janet R. Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1998.

Kazanjian, David, and Marc Nichanian, "Between Genocide and Catastrophe." Loss: The Politics of Mourning. Ed. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2003. 125-147.

Leys, Ruth. Trauma: A Genealogy. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.

Morrison, Toni. "The Site of Memory." Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Culture. Ed. Russell Ferguson, Martha Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Cornel West. Cambridge: MIT, 1990. 299-305.

Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota P, 1999.

Muñoz, José Esteban. "Feeling Brown: Ethnicity and Affect in Ricardo Bracho's The Sweetest Hangover (and Other STDs)." Theatre Journal 52 (2000), 67-79.

Nichanian, Marc. "Catastrophic Mourning." Loss: The Politics of Mourning. Ed. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2003. 99-124.

Pellegrini, Ann. Performance Anxieties, Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Pellegrini, Ann. "Before a Live Audience." Paper presented at Liveness: A Symposium, New York University (April 2000).

Pellegrini, Ann. "Staging Sexual Injury: How I Learned to Drive." Critical Theory and Performance, second edition. Ed. Janelle G. Reinelt and Joseph R. Roach. Ann Arbor, MI: U of Michigan P, in press.

Phelan, Peggy. Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Romero, Lora. Home Fronts: Domesticity and Its Critics in the Antebellum United States. Durham: Duke UP, 1997.

Samuels, Shirley. The Culture of Sentiment: Race, Gender, and Sentimentality in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.

Sánchez-Eppler, Karen. Touching Liberty: Abolition, Feminism, and the Politics of the Body. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.

Sanders, Mark. "Ambiguities of Mourning: Law, Custom, and Testimony of Women before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission." Loss: The Politics of Mourning. Ed. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2003. 77-98.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosovksy. "Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading; or, You're so Paranoid, You Probably Think This Introduction is About You." Novel Gazing: Queer Readings in Fiction. Durham: Duke UP, 1997.

Seremetakis, C. Nadia, ed. The Senses Still: Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.

Spillers, Hortense. "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book." Diacritics 17 (Summer 1987), 65-81.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. "Can the Subaltern Speak?: Speculations on Widow Sacrifice," Wedge 7/8 (Winter/Spring 1985): 120-130.

Stewart, Kathleen. The Private Life of Public Culture. Unpublished manuscript.

Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860. New York: Oxford UP, 1985.

Williams, Linda. Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2001.

Williams, Patricia. The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1991.

Young, Allan. The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1995.

S&F Online - Issue 2.1, Public Sentiments - Ann Cvetkovich and Ann Pellegrini, Guest Editors - ©2003.