Cultural theory as mood work

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2014 Number 82

Cultural theory as mood work
Carolyn Pedwell pages -


In staging an encounter between Sedgwick’s discussion of reparation, Spivak’s analysis of translation, and critical scholarship on mood, this essay considers how we might understand contemporary cultural theory as a form of ‘mood work’ that is at once discursive and material, textual and affective, political and aesthetic. In particular, I am interested in how thinking reparation, translation and mood together might open up different ways of conceptualising and negotiating the affective ‘double binds’ central to both critical thought and socio-political relations at the current conjuncture. As Sedgwick and Spivak each show us, I will argue, tarrying with contradiction and ambivalence is the mood work that cultural theory must continue to pursue, both in order to understand the material implications of our own emotional investments in intellectual production and to appreciate the complex ways in which power operates within the structures of feeling of late liberalism.

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To cite this article
Carolyn Pedwell (2014) Cultural theory as mood work, New Formations, 2014(82), -

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