May 22nd | Lindsay Reckson on “Viral Gestures, or How to Use Your Body at the End of the World”

Please Join the Affect and the Emotions Workshop

Monday, May 22nd, inCobb 304, from4:30-6:00pm CT


Lindsay Reckson

Associate Professor of English, Haverford College


“Viral Gestures, or How to Use Your Body at the End of the World”

Image: “An anonymous post-it contributed to Currently, a 2023 exhibit on capital punishment that I helped organize with artist Mark Menjívar at Haverford College. In pencil on a green post-it, written in all caps: “EXERCISE: HOLD EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE,” with “ACCOUNTABLE” scratched out.” – Lindsay Reckson
Description: This piece includes writing towards my book of essays in progress, Notes on Gesture. The book is a series of short essays on the ethics and politics of gesture in queer/feminist video art and performance since the mid-1960s (including works by Yvonne Rainer, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Margaret Salmon, Maria Laet, Steffani Jemison, Martine Syms, and others). In “ViralGestures,” I’m thinking through the communicability of gesture—its collective, relational form—primarily in works by Jemison and Syms. Broadly in this piece, I’m wondering whether and how Black feminist gestures produce a glitch in carceral/capitalist knowledge and visual regimes, as well as how such gestures model ongoingness in apocalyptic times.   

Please reach out to the coordinators with any requests or questions about accessibility or the workshop, and we look forward to welcoming you at our meeting! 

May 15th | Glenn Most on “The Horrific Body in Sophocles”

Please Join the Affect and the Emotions Workshop

Monday, April 15th, in Cobb 304, from 4:30-6:00pm CT


Glenn Most

Visiting Professor, Classics and the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago


“The Horrific Body in Sophocles”

Description: More even than the other two great Athenian tragedians, Sophocles seems to have a marked tendency to stage the suffering human body in so drastic and so effective a way as to produce emotions of profound horror in the other characters, the chorus, and presumably the audience. This article discusses the mechanisms and possible motivations for this tragic theme in all three tragedians and in the ancient theory of tragedy, but it focuses especially on Sophocles and, in Sophocles, especially on his Trachiniae and Philoctetes. Sophocles’ fascination with the horrific live human body is largely unparalleled in ancient Greek tragedy; I conclude by offering some possible explanatory hypotheses for this curious fact.

April 17th | Jimmy White on “On Harmony: The Return of the Little Prince, or ‘What is it that can unite us?’”

Please Join the Affect and the Emotions Workshop

Monday, April 17th, in SSRB 401, from 4:30-6:00pm CT


Jimmy White

PhD Student, Classics and the Committee on Social THought, University of Chicago


“On Harmony: The Return of the Little Prince, or ‘What is it that can unite us?’”

Discussant: Rosanna Warren, Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

Description: Perhaps in an echo of an observation made three centuries prior by Blaise Pascal (“Nous connaissons la vérité, non seulement par la raison, mais encore par le cœur”, Pensées 282), an otherworldly child—the eponymous youth of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince—learns from a wise fox that what the eye cannot discern the heart sees clearly. In this paper, through a close reading and translation of the text, I aim to appreciate this beloved tale and to consider its central lesson that the heart—so easily assumed as the seat of emotions and irrationality—is, most essentially, the lens through which one perceives rightly. Charming dialogues and beautiful illustrations shape the fictive landscape and overall encouraging tone of Le Petit Prince. Yet, this tenor of positivity is not to be confused with undemanding optimism; for Saint-Exupéry’s own experiences give expression to the story’s core disunifying emotions of loneliness, sadness, and despair. Because its words and images affect us, author of the Mary Poppins series and first-reviewer P. L. Travers notes, “in some place that is not the mind and glows there until the time comes for [one] to comprehend [them]”, Le Petit Prince enchants us to see intuitively, as Pascal phrases it; in other words, to take a leap of the imagination, to discover that what matters most can only be seen with the heart

February 27th | Rivky Mondal on “Living with Difference: Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Raven Leilani’s Luster”

The Affect and the Emotions Workshop and

the 20th & 21st Century Cultures Workshop are pleased to welcome:

Rivky Mondal

PhD Candidate, Department of English Language and Literature

“Living with Difference: Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Raven Leilani’s Luster

Monday, February 27th from 5:00-6:30 pm
via Zoom 

with respondent Lauren Jackson, Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University

 This chapter examines two fictional worlds constructed largely through female protagonists’ microsocial observations of difference. Sally Rooney’sConversations with Friends(2017) and Raven Leilani’s Luster(2020) center on the perceptions of women in their early 20s whose marginalized position enables them to see the confrontation, and contradictions, of everyday life and large-scale categories of race, gender, age, and class. I argue that Rooney and Leilani foreground both scales, and, in toggling between them, reveal points of mismatch. This non-equivalence indexes a broader crisis of making connections in the millennial novel. Citing the respective social and political consequences of this crisis in the works themselves, the chapter considers the use of super-subtle readings within neoliberalism’s political extrovertedness, an ethos marked by subjects’ far-reaching forthrightness around injustice and identity. Ultimately, I suggest that the affordances of the two novels is the aesthetic value they assign to characters’ hesitation to generalize about others and a formal design that leaves room for alterity within the diegesis.


Our meetings are open to the University of Chicago community and visitors who comply with University of Chicago vaccination requirements. We are committed to making our workshop fully accessible for people with disabilities. Please direct any questions and concerns to the Affect and Emotions Workshop Coordinators, Gasira Timir ( and Bellamy Mitchell (, or the 20thand 21st Century workshop coordinators, Cassandra Lerer ( and Chris Gortmaker (

Image: Lizzy Lunday, From the Clouds(2022)

February 20th | Yunning Zhang on “The Passion According to La China Poblana: Martyrdom and Distress in Catarina de San Juan’s Vida (1689-1692) by Alonso Ramos”

Please join the Affect and the Emotions Workshop on

Monday, February 20th, on Zoom4:30-6:00pm CT


Yunning Zhang

PhD Student, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Chicago


“The Passion According to La China Poblana: Martyrdom and Distress in Catarina de San Juan’s Vida (1689-1692) by Alonso Ramos”



Discussant: J. Michelle Molina, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Northwestern University


Description: This paper examines distressful martyrdoms in the three-volume hagiography of Catarina de San Juan (ca.1607-1688) who, born to the royal family of the Mughal Empire, disembarked in New Spain via the Manila Galleon as a domestic slave, before dying a venerated mystic in Puebla de los Ángeles. Catarina, popularly known as la china poblana, has long been an object of curiosity for scholars of Colonial Latin American studies and has been established as an emblem for the multicultural, multiracial baroque society of New Spain. This paper, however, reads her as a body in distress that was afflicted with two opposing sides of violence: the persecution of Jesuit missionaries in her visions, and the martyrizing violence with which her sexualized and racialized body suffered in her pilgrimage to the Americas. Contrary to the European /Novohispanic martyrs globally celebrated for their glorious sacrifice for faith in the “Far East”, Catarina’s “martyrdoms” shed light on the ways in which the gruesome sufferings of the other ethnicity and the other sex had been reappropriated for the writing of an early modern trans-Pacific account of felicitous encounters and salvation.