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Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  466 ratings  ·  26 reviews
A pioneer in queer theory and literary studies, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick brings together for the first time in Touching Feeling her most powerful explorations of emotion and expression. In essays that show how her groundbreaking work in queer theory has developed into a deep interest in affect, Sedgwick offers what she calls "tools and techniques for nondualistic thought," in ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 17th 2003 by Duke University Press Books (first published December 27th 2002)
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  466 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Dec 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
my what a fun read! this is one of the most enjoyable things i’ve read in like forever. i’ve been curious about the hippest thing in theory right now, which is all this affect stuff, and a friend told me that eve sedgwick is the one that’s done it the best. not only is this the clearest i’ve heard the ideas behind affect theory explained, but as the book is also very challenging i think it takes the ideas to the furthest places, from activism to literary theory to cybernetics to buddhism. she’s ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Most emotional book I've read in 2k15
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
Her best, in my humblest opinion. Reparative reading = my life.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reviewing queer theory by summarizing the merits of each argument is inordinately challenging for me; I think the issue when attempting to do so is how academic close reads like Sedgwick's are such that the impeccable logic - while fluid and comprehensible - tends to click into focus in a way that allows the reader to understand the "music" of the argument, or the contours and major themes thereof, but becomes hard to recapture or share in a way that does them any remote sense of justice.

There a
Ayanna Dozier
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity assembles a collection of essays, many of them previously published, by Eve Sedgwick. The essays are loosely connected to one another through the thread of negative affect. That is, the essays navigate questions of shame, paranoia, death, and depression. Sedgwick argues that these affective channels of energy offers a continual negotiation with identity, and thus create conditions of possibility and fluidity for individuals as oppose to ones tha ...more
Tomás Narvaja
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
If my rating were based solely on the chapter on "Shame in the cybernetic fold: reading Silvan Tomkins / written with Adam Frank" and "Paranoid reading and reparative reading, or, You're so paranoid, you probably think this essay is about you" I would give this book 5 stars as I personally found these two chapters, with the nuance of Ruth Leys' critique, to be profoundly thought-provoking and powerful in both my scholarly work and my personal life.
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: phd, non-fiction
Always a pleasure to read Sedgwick, such a fluid and engaging writer, even when discussing something abstract or otherwise difficult to describe.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer, feminism
Reading 'Touching Feeling' was weird - I felt like "Ok I'm reading something great and special" but just couldn't get a hold of what was supposedly so great and special about it. Somehow I just wasn't able to connect to Sedgwick's writing at all. Maybe one day I'll read it again and get more out of it.
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In Touching Feeling (2003), Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick moves away from a hermeneutics of suspicion or exposure toward an understanding of affect and pedagogy, drawing on the notion of beside instead of beneath or beyond (8). Some key ideas:

Drawing on Renu Bora, Sedgwick understands "texxture" (with two x's) as "the kind of texture that is dense with offered information about how, substantially, historically, materially, it came into being" (14).

She understands affect as different from drive because a
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
good CTA reading, surprisingly—first on a failed trip to devon, then on The Commute. i'd read paranoid reading and reparative reading before (on my postvirgilian epic professor's recommendation, weirdly—he also recommended the book as a whole—) but man is it still so good. pretty much in a more rigorous and also more generous way what lisa ruddick's point essay "when nothing is cool" is about, which no one seemed to recognize at the time (that need to come across as never being surprised, that s ...more
Brenden O'Donnell
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-of-the-list
Sedgwick somehow dismantles the master's house using the master's tools. She writes the theory she's attacking better than anyone could, from many different angles, offering, in the space that's left, reparative reading and teaching practices. I'm not sure what to do with them, to be honest—at the end of each chapter I was left asking "so what?" What's at stake here? But in a sense, that response is the purpose of the book. What has been at stake in theory? She certainly is not arguing the answe ...more
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it
well, this was my first sedgwick book. maybe not the best choice to get to what she's famous for (one of the first person to write Queer Theory), but definitely interesting as hell. affect studies - the study of pleasures, sensations, feelings, emotions, tactile experiences. it's offered as an alternative to the never-ending difficulties of identity politics, and i think it's an excellent way to go. what is the experience of sexism or Orientalism or able-ism and can we work together based on tho ...more
Jo Verbena
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
My rating is not a reflection on the quality of writing but on what I got from it - the blurb described the prose as 'always accessible' but I didn't find this at all, skipped chapter after chapter struggling to understand and absorb any of the theories and ideas, despite enjoying the introduction and being interested in the topics that the book touches upon. The language is too convoluted for me and perhaps you need to be at a certain level of philosophical reading to take anything from this wo ...more
Apr 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love that a search for this book on Goodreads brings up children's titles such as Pat the Bunny, Pat the Farm Animal, and Family Pets.
But - review. I have finally found it. The essay on buddhist epistemology and affect that is going to finally grant me a vocabulary for thinking discursively about yoga and other non-discursive practices of "healthy knowing". Perhaps the end to my friends' anxiety about me being a yoga convert also.
The rest I am yet to read, so this review is only about final
Jack Caulfield
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Honest, bold, joyful, original, and above all, kind: Sedgwick frequently dissents from critical commonplaces, but always engages with them in a way that is productive rather than destructive. In her own words, 'reparative reading'. Essays on everything from Buddhism to paranoia to 9/11 to Foucault to AIDS to the author's cat.
Nov 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I didn't understand all of this, but it's a genius-level collection of her essays. Interesting ideas about affect, about using it to break away from standard polarities/on-and-off ideas of identity. Also very personal while still academically intense. The first chapter talks way too much about Henry James's poop, though.
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was tempted to give this a lower rating because of the tendency toward academic jargon and deconstruction, but slogging through those (for me) less pleasant passages was worth it in the end. The cumulate experience of this text really was one of "reparative reading" in the best sense.
Sara Sams
Nov 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
I've been trying to really "currently-read" this book for a long time. Dense, thoughtful, sometimes beautiful theory prose that aims to proide "tools for non-dualist thinking." Now wrap your head around that one.
Richard Cytowic
Nov 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
Why is academic pose so clotted and constipated? Why must intellectuals obfuscate with jargon? I think too many years in ivory toward has atrophied their ability to speak/write clearly.

This from one of the originator of queer theory. Ho hum.
Jennifer Hamilton
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Space and affect - her line of questioning in this book is tacitly informing the line of questioning in my thesis. She died in April 2009 - I can only hope boxes of essays are posthumously published.
Roger Whitson
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love her portrayal of performative history in this book.
Johnny Jones
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sedgwick is awesome. The introduction, yes! Touch; feel. Texture; affect. I always return to this text when I'm thinking antiessentialist departure and new ways of learning and teaching.
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Ch. 1: "Shame, Theatricality, and Queer Performativity"
Ch. 4: "Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading"
Ch. 5: "Pedagogy of Buddhism"
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Sep 27, 2015
Robert Moscalewk
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Feb 17, 2015
Robert Mendoza
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Oct 24, 2015
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  • Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History
  • An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures
  • No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive
  • The Affect Theory Reader
  • Cruel Optimism
  • Publics and Counterpublics
  • In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives
  • Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation
  • Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others
  • Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories
  • Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times
  • Ordinary Affects
  • Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
  • Ugly Feelings
  • Is the Rectum a Grave?: and Other Essays
  • Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures
  • Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex"
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was an American academician specializing in literary criticism and feminist analysis; she is known as one of the architects of queer theory. Her works reflect an interest in queer performativity, experimental critical writing, non-Lacanian psychoanalysis, Buddhism and pedagogy, the affective theories of Silvan Tomkins and Melanie Klein, and material culture, especially textil ...more