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Depression: A Public Feeling

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  212 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In Depression: A Public Feelings Project, Ann Cvetkovich seeks to understand why intellectuals, activists, professionals, and other privileged people struggle with feelings of hopeless and self-loathing. She focuses particularly on those in academia, where the pressure to succeed and the desire to find space for creative thinking and alternative worlds bump up against the ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published November 5th 2012 by Duke University Press Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Quin Rich
Nov 04, 2014 Quin Rich rated it really liked it
I am deeply conflicted about this book. On the one hand, Cvetkovich's analysis is insightful, fulfilling, and came to me at precisely the right time in my life. On the other hand, at several points throughout the text Cvetkovich minimizes the very real world-historical force of white supremacy. Even when she directly discusses racism as a form of everyday trauma, she equates white/settle guilt with the lived and historical experiences of racism. She also basically dismisses the idea of cultural ...more
Peter Landau
Feb 18, 2013 Peter Landau rated it really liked it
Say no to drugs, except when your depressed? I've self-medicated and I've had a doctor's hand on the mortar and pestle with equal results. And the answer, for me, is that depression is a rational response to life. It's sad, and then it's not, and then it is again. So what? Life doesn't care, and neither should you. Cvetkovich doesn't deny the dismal aspects of life nor does she dismiss the joy inherent in the living, but she, through various, mostly queer-culture examples, shows that the value o ...more
Duke Press
“Cvetkovich offers us an introduction to thinking critically about depression's causes and its manifestations as well as, perhaps, the localised tactics that are necessary to enable recovery. At the end, she turns rather sweetly to crafting as one reparative habit, partly because of the aesthetic of connectivity that it can stimulate. Knitting yourself out of depression: it's kind of folksy, but I liked it.”--Sally Munt, Times Higher Education

“At one end, Depression is a call to expand how we f
Magdalena O!
Jan 23, 2015 Magdalena O! rated it it was amazing
Cvetkovich experiments with writing form and includes a memoir in the first section of the book in which she details the last years of her PhD and the first years of her working. She de-pathologizes depression (which she also names bad feelings for its banal connotations), and instead, demonstrates the ways in which it can open up new forms of sociality and serve as foundations for new forms of attachment. She later makes these claims theoretically (is this a kind of grounded theory? j/k!) For h ...more
Jess Hum
Aug 10, 2016 Jess Hum rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant genre bending, interdisciplinary piece of work! I don't know how Cvetkovich does it, but she somehow managed to seamlessly link feminist crafting, post-colonial intellectualism and early Christian Asceticism. Writing about knowledges that come from the body and from practices rather than texts, we understand how the combination of both ordinary and spiritual practices can be an remedy for 'public feelings', such as despair, isolation and depression. What could easily be writt ...more
Sep 03, 2016 Liza rated it it was amazing
Shelves: here-or-there, queer
A queer academic self-help book! That is what Ann Cvetkovich said she "kind of jokingly" called this project, but I think it's for real. My boss lent me this along with Lynda Barry's Cruddy and Beth Ditto's memoir, which I think make good companion pieces. By the time I was about a third of the way through, I had forcibly recommended this book to almost everyone I know, but two thirds of the way in I got completely bogged down. Maybe that's fitting?
Feb 29, 2016 E rated it liked it
frequently insightful, frequently superficial, frequently brought out my inner editor. \_(ツ)_/ ...more
Dec 04, 2016 Kathrina rated it liked it
Shelves: didn-t-finish, affect
Insightful but tedious.
May 01, 2016 Uglypuppet rated it really liked it
Half memoir, half critical essay, this book weaves together anecdote, medical history, race politics, high + low art, feminist + queer theory, and spirituality to create a surprisingly approachable and useful guide for reframing how we think about depression. Astute, unexpected, and highly recommended for anyone suspicious of the self-help genre, and/or fed up with the current obsession for viewing sadness as a chemical disease with only medical cures.
Steven Winkelman
Dec 08, 2015 Steven Winkelman rated it it was ok
Very poorly executed and sloppy. If you're looking for this type of text, try Lauren Berlant. The author spends the first section talking about the dangers of anti-depressants and then begins he own journal in the second. In the final section she admits she took anti-depressants throughout the entire process of the book. The writing meanders and veers off topic frequently. Sentences are flat and the this is another text that needed serious editing before it went to publication.
Charles Keiffer
Apr 07, 2015 Charles Keiffer rated it it was amazing

This book is a stunning example of the potential of affect theory for cultural studies and academia in general. It's beautifully written and lovely to read, refreshingly sensitive in its analysis of Medieval thought, and an utter tour de force in its new perspective on depression and contemporary life.
Jun 04, 2015 Dylan rated it liked it
The introduction is an incredible essay well worth reading. Perhaps it was simply because it raised by hopes and excitement so high that I was rather let down by the rest of the book.
It took me forever to get through the Introduction (oh, Duke University Press), so if you get stuck there, I recommend just skipping it -- but once I got through that, I really liked the book.
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  • Cruel Optimism
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  • Stigmata: Escaping Texts
  • Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
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Ann Cvetkovich is Ellen C. Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. She is the author of Depression: A Public Feeling, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures, and Mixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture, and Victorian Sensationalism; a coeditor of Political Emotions; and a former editor of ...more
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“My interest in spiritual approaches to medical problems should not, however, be construed as a dismissal of science; rather it is a call for more integrated relations between science and humanities in order to transform medical cultures.” 1 likes
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