The legibilities of mood work

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2014 Number 82

The legibilities of mood work
Jennifer D. Carlson, Kathleen C. Stewart pages -


This essay explores how mood marshals bodies, objects, technologies, sensations and flights of fantasy to articulate the labour of living. For us, mood is a contact zone for the strange and prolific coexistence of self and world, through which we sense out what is actual and potential in an empirical context. We refer to this labour of sensing out as mood work, which is both a habit and an emerging sense of form, often inchoate and yet pronounced in practices, socialities, scenes, social circles, events, and landscapes. Mood works are not easily read, but they are legible and, as such, they can be sensed out and followed. Through ethnographic writing, we explore legibilities of mood work at two spatiotemporal sites, the United States of the 1950s, when action and attachment in everyday life magnetised around the object of the good life, and Germany in the early twenty-first century, where domestic spheres were newly animated by the technoscientific promise of renewable energy development. In mapping legibilities of mood work at these sites, we consider how writing itself is a form of mood work, a method of attending and composing that pulls ethnographer and audience into the shared sensing out of worlds.

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To cite this article
Jennifer D. Carlson, Kathleen C. Stewart (2014) The legibilities of mood work, New Formations, 2014(82), -

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