2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Interrogating Emotions


Fall 2011 quarter

Laura Citrin social psychology, gender and women's studies , Anne de Marcken (Forbes) creative writing, moving-image media
Fields of Study
American studies, gender and women's studies, psychology and sociology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
psychology, sociology, mental health, and cultural studies.

In every human attitude-for example in emotion...--we shall find the whole of human reality, since emotion is the human reality which assumes itself and which, "aroused," "directs" itself toward the world. [...] There is, in effect, a world of emotion.  Jean-Paul Sartre (1948)

What are emotions, sentiments, and feelings? From whence do emotions come? What functions do they serve, both for the individual and for society? In this full-time psychology program, we will examine the ways that emotions -emotional experience and expression- are connected with cultural ideologies and assumptions. We'll cover the "big five" emotions: anger, sadness, happiness, disgust, and fear, as well as the socio-moral emotions like embarrassment, contempt, shame, and pride. We will also discuss the field of positive psychology and its analysis of the positive emotions (e.g., joy, hope, interest, love) and the role they play in what positive psychologists refer to as "the good life." We will study the ways emotions are expressed, avoided, embraced, and rejected according to complex display rules that vary across culture and within culture based on gendered, raced, and classed social norms. Underlying all of this discussion will be an analysis of the ways that power operates on and through us to get under our skin and into what feels like our most personal possessions -our emotions.

The interrogation of emotions in this program will occur via readings, lectures, films, workshops, and twice-weekly, student-led seminars. Students will also engage in the process of primary data collection for a research project centered on an emotion that is of particular interest to them. Conducting research will enable students to participate first-hand in knowledge production within the interdisciplinary domain of affect studies.

Readings will be selected to provoke thought and incite debate and discussion. Possible texts include Larissa Tiedens & Colin Leach (Eds.), The Social Life of Emotions; Melissa Gregg & Gregory Seigworth (Eds.), The Affect Theory Reader; Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion; William Miller, Anatomy of Disgust; Tom Lutz, Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears; and Barbara Fredrickson, Positivity.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
August 8th, 2011 Anne de Marcken has been added to the faculty team.
May 5th, 2011 Description has been expanded.
May 2nd, 2011 New program offered.