Reading The Transmission of Affect

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In her last work The Transmission of Affect (2004), Teresa Brennan suggests that people in the Western world once had conscious knowledge of the transmission of affect. The only documentation of these affective traces lies in literature and the clinic. Brennan goes on to call for an “education of the senses” that involves rethinking our relationship to language and expanding our definition of language to include systems of the body. How might this expansion shed light on possible affective economies that have been lost in the margins? What cross-cultural threads might be traced in the process? Continuing our conversation about primary emotions earlier this quarter, this reading group considers Teresa Brennan’s theory of affect as a way of thinking about how we read the embodied feelings that literature has always preserved. We will read Brennan’s “Introduction” paired with a brief reading from Julian of Norwich’s late fourteenth-century manuscript, A Revelation of Divine Love, as a way of opening up this conversation.

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