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Structures of Feeling: Or, How to Do Things (or Not) with Books

Structures of Feeling: Or, How to Do Things (or Not) with Books MITCHUM HUEHLS Jane Elliott, Popular Feminist Fiction as American Allegory: Representing National Time. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 225 pp. $80.00. Kathleen Woodward, Statistical Panic: Cultural Politics and Poetics of the Emotions. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2009. 316 pp. $23.95. f Raymond Williams could have anticipated the current "affective turn" in literary and cultural studies--the centripetal force of which has been spinning through the humanities for more than a decade--would he still have named his perhaps most famous critical term "structures of feeling"? After all, as soon as he introduces the concept in Marxism and Literature, Williams walks it back, first explaining that he intends only to oppose "feeling" to "more formal concepts of `world-view' or `ideology,'" and then admitting just a few sentences later that "experience" would actually be "the better and wider word."1 The problem with the term is not that it somehow sanctions critical attention to the mushy-gushy world of subjective emotions. It doesn't. Or as Sianne Ngai has explained, "[M]ost critics today accept that far from being merely private or idiosyncratic phenomena . . . feelings are as fundamentally `social' as the institutions and collective practices that have been the more traditional http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Structures of Feeling: Or, How to Do Things (or Not) with Books

Contemporary Literature , Volume 51 (2) – Dec 10, 2010

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Abstract

MITCHUM HUEHLS Jane Elliott, Popular Feminist Fiction as American Allegory: Representing National Time. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 225 pp. $80.00. Kathleen Woodward, Statistical Panic: Cultural Politics and Poetics of the Emotions. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2009. 316 pp. $23.95. f Raymond Williams could have anticipated the current "affective turn" in literary and cultural studies--the centripetal force of which has been spinning through the humanities for more than a decade--would he still have named his perhaps most famous critical term "structures of feeling"? After all, as soon as he introduces the concept in Marxism and Literature, Williams walks it back, first explaining that he intends only to oppose "feeling" to "more formal concepts of `world-view' or `ideology,'" and then admitting just a few sentences later that "experience" would actually be "the better and wider word."1 The problem with the term is not that it somehow sanctions critical attention to the mushy-gushy world of subjective emotions. It doesn't. Or as Sianne Ngai has explained, "[M]ost critics today accept that far from being merely private or idiosyncratic phenomena . . . feelings are as fundamentally `social' as the institutions and collective practices that have been the more traditional

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Dec 10, 2010

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