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Affects, Flows, Fluids

Affects, flux, fluides

Representations, Histories and Politics of Emotions in Arts

Représentations, histoires et politiques des émotions en arts

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Published on Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Highlighting a wide variety of scientific and methodological approaches, this international symposium aims to open a transdisciplinary and intermedial discussion around issues related to emotions, feelings, and affects in art practices.


This International Symposium will be hold on April 3, 4 avril, 2019 at Université de Strasbourg

Theme outline

Long considered to be subjective and anecdotal, and, for these reasons unworthy of being historicized or recognized as scientific objects, emotions raise a growing interest since the affective turn of the 1990’s (Stearns 1998; Reddy 1997; Massumi 2002; Sedgwick 2003; Clough 2007; Corbin, Coutine, Vigarello 2016). Today, it is with a wide variety of scientific and methodological approaches that affective phenomena are being studied, from anthropology to sociology and philosophy, from history to neuroscience. In France, within the fields of art theory and history, it still remains to initiate a transdisciplinary and intermedial discussion around issues related to emotions, feelings, and affects. In order to work on such a fluctuating and elusive object as the affective process, we will refuse all restrictive definition, approaching « emotions », « affects », « moods », « humours » or « feelings » as moving and active realities. Articulating emotion and perception, memory and history, body and subjectivization, representations and politics, temporalities and spatialities, this international symposium calls for proposals coming from all kinds of discipline with a view to examine the multiple questions related to emotional expressions in art, whether it be visual arts, music, dance, performance, film, digital arts, or literature.

We are interested in a broad range of papers that might fall under the following approaches, without time boundaries:

Axe 1 : Materialities of emotions in art

The lexical field of emotions covers words that are linked to moods and humors, which allows to touch very concrete aspects like fluids, shapes and sharpness of feelings. We are seeking transdisciplinary proposals about materiality of emotions: questioning the tangible and sensible aspects of works of art on the one hand, and on the other hand asking how images and narratives are given shape by emotion. How can we study circulations of fluxes and affective intensities, in medias like performance, video, digital arts? How do we build our relationships to emotions through artistic mediums, and in what ways do contemporary art practices renew our affects?

This thematic area focuses on what emotions make and produce. Building from a Butlerian conception of body materiality and matter, as a “resistance to fixing the subject” (Butler, 1993), we can think of physical translations of affects: pleasures, marks, wounds. Considering that artistic and cultural practices contribute to circulate organisms, proposals paying attention to physiological expressions – secretions, sexualities, diseases –will be of special interest. To grasp performativity and agentivity of emotion and feeling in art, we will also ask with Sara Ahmed (Ahmed, 2004), how they shape bodies and objects, and affect their realness.

Axe 2 : Politics of emotions

At the very root of the artistic process, at the core of the structure and « dispositif » of the work of art, affective phenomena might be examined as a relational process, in terms of individual and collective sensibilities. One might also address various aspects of the production and reception of the works of art, their sharing and collective work within artistic groups and movements. Furthermore, in order to grasp the political issues at stake in individual feelings, we seek proposals studying the effects of power relationships on emotions, through the lens of gender, race, class, and sexualities social relationships. Drawing on affect theories in feminist, queer, and postcolonial studies (Ahmed, 2004; Appadurai, 2007; Cvetkovich 2003), one might give attention to dissenting mode of affectivity in artistic practices, such as tactics of resistance or strategies of diversion of alienating feelings. As we might consider that identities are not only shaped by ideologies and discourses, we will explore the virtues of emotional surging and irruptions. Thus, the unpredictability and instability of emotions could be envisioned as elements of disruption of social norms. Such approaches enable to study the coexistence of affective groups within a dominant emotional regime as well as the fields of struggle which map their dissemination.

Axe 3 : Memory of emotions

From their concrete techniques of archive and conservation, to the narrations and historiographies of their writing in history of arts, this symposium aims to study history of emotions in artistic practices. The idea that affectivity is subject to historical shifts is relatively new (Febvre, 1941). History of emotions has been growing since the 1980’s, when cognitive exclusivity of reason was challenged as well as the natural character of feelings. It is enriched by anthropology, cognitive sciences, psychology. Emphasizing a Warburgian non-linear and heterogeneous temporality, we aim to ask how cultural gestures and images can act as surviving, and transmitting, mediums. Moreover, taking inspiration from “archives of feeling” (Cvetkovich, 2003) or “erotohistoriography” (Freeman, 2010) we wish to inventory and trace genealogies of affective modes in art and culture.

How can we study emotions in art from an historical point of view and working with archives? How can we archive and historicize the immediate, the elusive, the precarious? Are oral history and archives specifically relevant to access feelings? One might finally address issues regarding precarious memories – resurgences, anachronisms, lapses, failure, trauma – and how they can be used as tools to analyze and write art histories.

Selected bibliography

  • Ahmed, Sara, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, Londres, Routledge, 2004.
  • Appadurai, Arjun, Géographies de la colère. La violence à l'âge de la globalisation, Paris, Payot & Rivages, 2007.
  • Butler, Judith, Ces corps qui comptent. De la matérialité et des limites discursives du « sexe », trad. Charlotte Nordmann, Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2009.
  • Careri, Giovanni, Gestes d’amour et de guerre. L’image-affect. Poésie, peinture, théâtre et danse dans l’Europe du Tasse, Paris, éd. de l’EHESS, 2005.
  • Clough, Patricia (éd.), The Affective Turn : Theorizing the Social, Durham, Duke University Press, 2007.
  • Corbin, Alain, Courtine, Jean-Jacques et Vigarello, George (éd.), Histoire des émotions, 3 volumes, Paris, Seuil, 2016-2017.
  • Cvetkovich, Ann, An Archive of Feelings. Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures, Durham, Duke University Press, 2003.
  • Elisabeth Freeman, Time Binds. Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories, Duke University Press, 2010.
  • Grenier, Catherine, La revanche des émotions. Essai sur l'art contemporain, Paris, Seuil, 2008.
  • Ginzburg, Carlo, Peur, révérence, terreur. Quatre essais d’iconographie politique, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2013.
  • Jones, Amelia, Irrational Modernism. A Neurasthenic History of New York Dada, Cambridge, Mass., The MIT Press, 2004.
  • Lebovici, Élisabeth, Ce que le sida m'a fait. Art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle, Paris, JRP Ringier / La maison rouge, 2017.
  • Massumi, Brian, Parables for the Virtual : Movement, Affect, Sensation, Durham, Duke University Press, 2002.
  • Meltzer, Eve, Systems We Have Loved: Conceptual Art, Affect, and the Antihumanist Turn, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2013.
  • Mignolo, Walter, « Géopolitique de la sensibilité et du savoir. (Dé)colonialité, pensée frontalière et désobéissance épistémologique », Mouvements, vol. 1, n° 73, 2013, p. 181-190.
  • Pollock, Griselda, After-affects / After-images. Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation in the Virtual Feminist Museum, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 201
  • Reddy, William M., The Navigation of Feeling : A Framework for the History of Emotions,  Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Schneider, Rebecca, Performing Remains. Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2011.
  • Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, Touching Feeling : Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity,  Durham, Duke University Press, 2003.
  • Stearns, Carol Z. et Stearns, Peter N., « Emotionology. Clarifying the History of Emotions and Emotional Standards », American Historical Review, n° 90, 1985, p. 813-836.

Submission guidelines

Proposals for a conference paper should include an abstract (no more than 500 words) specifying the title of the paper, and a short biography of the author.Proposals can be sent to colloqueaffects@gmail.com

until October 14th


  • Clélia Barbut - Chercheuse associée à l'EA 1279, Histoire et critique des arts, Université Rennes 2 et au Cerlis, UMR 8070, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
  • Janig Bégoc - MCF en Histoire et théories des arts visuels, Université de Strasbourg
  • Anaïs Bernard - ATER en Arts visuels, Université de Strasbourg. Chercheuse associée à l'EA 3402 Approches contemporaines de la création et de la réflexion artistiques, Université de Strasbourg
  • Anne Creissels - MCF en Arts plastiques et artiste, Université de Lille 3
  • Johanna Renard – ATER en Arts visuels, Université de Strasbourg. Chercheuse associée à l'EA 3402 Approches contemporaines de la création et de la réflexion artistiques, Université de Strasbourg, et à l’EA 1279, Histoire et critique des arts, Université Rennes 2

Scientific committee

  • Aude Astier (Université de Strasbourg)
  • Janig Bégoc (Université de Strasbourg)
  • Sandra Boehringer (Université de Strasbourg)
  • Rachele Borghi (Sorbonne Université)
  • Sylvain Diaz (Université de Strasbourg)
  • Martial Guédron (Université de Strasbourg)  
  • Amelia Jones (University of Southern California)
  • Claire Lahuerta (Université de Lorraine)
  • Georges Vigarello (EHESS)
  • Florian Vörös (Lille 3)
  • Anne Zeitz (Université Rennes 2)


  • Université de Strasbourg (EA 3402)
  • Université Lille 3 (CEAC)


  • Université de Strasbourg - Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme, Allée du Général Rouvillois
    Strasbourg, France (67)


  • Sunday, October 14, 2018


  • émotions, affects, flux, fluides, arts, études culturelles, politique, race, classe, sexualités


  • Johanna Renard
    courriel : johanna [dot] renard [at] esad-gv [dot] fr

Information source

  • Johanna Renard
    courriel : johanna [dot] renard [at] esad-gv [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Affects, Flows, Fluids », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, https://doi.org/10.58079/10sj

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