Kathleen C. Stewart
Professor — Ph.D., University of Michigan
Cultural generativity, affect, ordinary life, public culture, political imaginaries, ethnographic writing, narrative, ethnopoetics, post-structuralism, U.S. popular culture, Appalachia, Las Vegas.
Katie Stewart writes and teaches on affect, the ordinary, the senses, and modes of ethnographic engagement based on curiosity and attachment. Her first book, A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an `Other' America (Princeton University Press, 1996) portrays a dense and textured layering of sense and form laid down in social use. Ordinary Affects (Duke University Press, 2007) maps the force, or affects, of encounters, desires, bodily states, dream worlds, and modes of attention and distraction in the composition and suffering of present moments lived as immanent events. Her current project, Worlding, tries to approach ways of collective living through or sensing out. An attunement that is also a worlding.
These works are experiments that write from the intensities in things, asking what potential modes of knowing, relating or attending to things are already being enacted and imagined in ordinary ways of living.
Additional affiliations: Women and Gender Studies
2002 Fellow, University of Texas Humanities Institute
2001 National Endowment for the Humanities Resident Fellow, School of American Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2000 Graduate Teaching Award, University of Texas
1997 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, Honorary Mention, Society for Humanistic Anthropology, for A Space on the Side of the Road.
1996 Chicago Folklore Prize, Honorary Mention, for A Space on the Side of the Road.
2007 Ordinary Affects. Duke University Press.
2006 Ordinary Resonance in Uncharted Territories: an experiment in finding missing cultural pieces. Edited by Orvar Lofgren.
2005 "Where the Past Meets the Future and Time Stands Still" in Histories of the Future, Susan Harding and Daniel Rosenberg, eds. Duke University Press.
2005 Cultural Poesis: The Generativity of Emergent Things. In Handbook of Qualitative Research, 3rd edition, eds. Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln. Sage.
2004 Signs. In Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Rudy Abramson and Judy Haskell, eds., University of Tennessee Press.
2004 Still Life. Reprinted in Women on the verge of Home, ed. Bilinda Straight. SUNY Press.
2003 The Perfectly Ordinary Life. In Public Sentiments: Memory, Trauma, History, Action. Scholar and Feminist On Line, guest editors Ann Cvetkovich and Ann Pelegrini, 2:1 Summer.
2003 with Susan Harding. Anxieties of Influence. In Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order, Todd Saunders and Harry West, eds. Duke University Press.
2003 Arresting Images. In Aesthetic Subjects: Pleasures, Ideologies, and Ethics, Pamela Matthews and David McWhirter, eds. University of Minnesota Press.
2002 Scenes of Life. In Public Culture 14:2.
ANT 325L • Ethnographies Of Emotion
30450 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM SAC 4.118
This course will be a writing flag. It will be run as a writing workshop with weekly writing assignments on topics including place, character, objects, subjects, cultural forms, everyday life and feeling states or structures such as trauma, love, hope, depression, the even keel and melodrama. We will explore how to articulate structures of feeling with models of culture and the self. We will carefully examine and experiment with modes of ethnographic attention, the importance of the telling detail and methods of participant observation.
ANT 394M • Affect
30625 • Spring 2016
Meets W 9:00AM-12:00PM SAC 4.120
This is a reading seminar and writing experiment on affect. For Deleuze, following Spinoza, affect is force. The capacity to affect and to be affected. A vital point of emergence where the actual meets the potential. This means seeing forms, powers, socialites, aesthetics, and sensory registers not as the obvious effects of abstracted, pre-known structures and determinants but as lived intensities, impacts, circulation, assemblages, and planes of expressivity. A world is not a bounded unity but a multiplicity of trajectories of potentiality. Binary oppositions and contradictions become resonating relations (of inside/outside, action/reaction, quiescence and arousal...). Constructions are not mere representations but compositions that take place as rhythms, atmospheres, refrains and energies entrained on bodies of all kinds. Culture and power are not structures and determinations but articulations of lines of flight. Structures are ontologically complex, prismatically proliferating assemblages of noumena and matter, dream and abstraction, energy and machines of all kinds.
Lauren Berlant. Cruel Optimism. William Connolly. A World of Becoming.Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Melissa Gregg and Greg Seigworth. The Affect Studies Reader. Derek McCormack. Refrains for Moving Bodies. Yael Navarro-Yashin. The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Post-War Polity. John Protevi. Political Affect. Rajchman. The Deleuze Connections. Kathleen Stewart. Ordinary Affects.
Writing: Each week read aloud a 300 word piece of writing inspired by the reading and useful for your project.
ANT 324L • Ethnographic Writing
30559 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM SAC 5.118
This is a writing workshop. Students will keep free-writing journals and write four essays, each of which
will be built through 4 drafts. We will read one another’s writings and give useful comments. In class we
will proceed through a series of exercises and workshops in doing ethnography, writing and reading. We
will experiment with how to writing about objects, places, scenes and situations, characters, forms of
attention, and sensibilities.
ANT 394M • Anthropology Of Place
ANT 394M • Affect
30845 • Spring 2015
Meets W 1:00PM-4:00PM SAC 5.124
This is a reading seminar and writing experiment on affect as a partially undisclosed force, the capacity to affect and to be affected and a point of emergence where the actual meets the potential. This means seeing forms, powers, socialites, aesthetics, and sensory registers not as the obvious effects of abstracted, pre-known structures and determinants but as lived intensities, impacts, circulation, assemblages, and planes of expressivity. A world is not a bounded unity but a multiplicity of trajectories of potentiality. Binary oppositions and contradictions become resonating relations (of inside/outside, action/reaction, quiescence and arousal…) compositions take place as rhythms, atmospheres, refrains and bodies.
Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus.
Melissa Greg and Greg Seigworth. The Affect Studies Reader.
Kathleen Stewart. Ordinary Affects.
Lauren Berlant. Cruel Optimism.
John Protevi. Political Affect.
Derek McCormack. Refrains for Moving Bodies.
Yael Navarro-Yashin. The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Post-War Polity.
Rajchman. The Deleuze Connections.
William Connolly. A World of Becoming.
ANT 394M • Anthropology Of Place
31715 • Fall 2014
Meets T 1:00PM-4:00PM SAC 5.118
This is an advanced seminar on place. We’ll read a lot of theory. It will be a writing workshop in which students read their work each week and the discussion revolves around the writing. It’s helpful to have already done ethnographic fieldwork. Students should have a strong background in cultural theory. Readings will include
Deleuze, The Three Ecologies; Morton, Hyperobjects; Stewart, A Space on the Side of the Road; Feld and Basso, Senses of Place; Anderson and Harrison, Taking-Place: Non-representational theories and Geography; Auge, Non-Places and chapters from a number of ethnographies of place.
ANT 394M • Worlding
ANT 391 • Infrastructure Theory
ANT 391 • Writing Workshop
31490 • Spring 2013
Meets M 9:00AM-12:00PM SAC 5.118
This course is designed to help students writing PhDs, MAs, or articles learn to develop concepts and research projects through writing. We’ll read some writings as models and some works about writing but not too much. The course will be structured as a workshop – we will read one another’s work and give comments. Each person will turn in a short piece of writing every other week. Readings include a packet of selections (including works by invited speakers) and
Mark Doty The Art of Description
Kirin Narayan Alive in the Writing
ANT 394M • Affect
31560 • Spring 2011
Meets W 1:30PM-4:30PM SAC 4.118
This is a Deleuze-influenced reading and writing event. Deleuze re-worked social theory away from structures and determinations and linear developments toward an ontology of difference and flow. Away from binary oppositions or contradictions toward resonating levels of things like inside/outside, action/reaction, quiescence and arousal. Central to this move was his attention to affect as a vital point of emergence where the actual meets the potential. Affect is the thing that always exceeds or escapes its capture by anchored perspectives or categories including nameable "emotions." It's about the trajectory and unplanned productivity of complex interacting social forces. While it will be the underlying puzzlingof the seminar to try to imagine what this kind of attention does to anthropological theory and cultural studies, we will also spend time reading on affect through other traditions including Freud, feminist theory,phenomenology, globalization theory, and ethnography.
ANT 325L • Ethnographic Writing
30165 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM GAR 0.128
This is a writing workshop. We will read one another’s writings, proceeding through a series of exercises to add density and texture to ethnographic description by including attention to scene, character, event, situation, dialogue, etc. Why does writing matter in ethnography? How do forms of writing change cultural theory? What questions do forms of writing raise about subjects and objects, forms of attention, the possibility of thinking through description?
ANT 394M • New Ethnographic Writing
30390 • Fall 2010
Meets W 1:30PM-4:30PM EPS 1.130KA
This is a writing workshop. We will read one another’s weekly writings in addition to other readings. Why does writing matter? What’s ethnography? How do forms of writing change cultural theory? What questions do forms of writing raise about subjects and objects?
ANT S324L • Ethnographic Writing
ANT 392P • Intro To Graduate Folklore
30615 • Spring 2010
Meets W 9:00AM-12:00PM EPS 1.128
Seminar Description: Today cultural analysis is being applied more widely than ever before, across varied domains—expressive, corporate, scientific, and social—that require different types of expertise and knowledge to properly comprehend. In this expansion of the scope of “cultural” as an explanatory framework, a focus on form provides a free-floating type of attention across a range of milieus and mediums. The analysis of form is as ancient as Greek philosophy (e.g. rhetoric) but as current as our interests in the latest technologies. This seminar surveys the variety of ways that an overarching interest in form is fueling interdisciplinary research, particularly in projects that track disparate cultural phenomenon across complex landscapes as they manifest in dense, multi-layered arrangements, often fusing financial, aesthetic, and political interests. We will examine the trend towards melding topic areas—such as “media ecology” or using “publics” with collectives of nonhuman life forms—to devise distinct ways of comprehending emergent cultural objects and activities. Media—as it references an array of substances, instruments, or channels—and mediation (in biotechnologies, communication infrastructures, legal practices, and market expansions) will serve as a basic point of orientation for seminar readings and discussion. Other examples of emergent phenomenon will be drawn from current work in science studies, post-human and biodiversity projects, and urban ecologies, which are each held together by an overriding attention to cultural forms of expression and exchange. The seminar will be divided into thirds: the first provides an overarching framework for an attention to form; the second examines a variety of forms (visual, sonic, urban, etc.); the final third focuses on applying these perspectives.
Seminar Dynamics: This initial stage of the seminar will feature a combination of lectures and readings: the first half of each session will primarily be lecture-oriented with a discussion following in the second half. Depending on the pace of discussions we can shift away from lectures entirely as we progress through the semester. A key objective is for participants to apply these analytical approaches, either in relation to their specific areas of research or in a more general manner. The mechanism for doing this will be a series of short, informal essays (3 or 4) in which participants develop sketches of objects, settings, or dynamics via an attention to cultural form.
ANT 302 • Cultural Anthropology
26240-26255 • Spring 2000
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:00PM UTC 3.132
This course focuses on "classic" themes in anthropology such as ethnicity, language, adaptation, marriage, kinship, gender, religion, and social stratification. We will consider anthropological theory from its 19th-century origins to the present. The course also explores the nature of ethnographic field work, especially the relationship between the anthropologist and the field community.
The lectures, readings, and films for this course have been selected with the objective of exploring the social meanings with which diverse groups invest their life. By comparing and analyzing the similarities and differences between "us" and "others," both within the borders of the U.S. and abroad, the anthropological perspective can expose some of our own cultural assumptions and enable us to better understand diverse cultures.
Forthcoming. Co-authored with Joseph Russo. “Affective Ecologies” The Feelings of Structure. Karen Engle and Yok Sum Wong, eds.
Forthcoming. Co-authored with Joseph Russo. “Arriving at Singularity.” Writers on Writing, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Forthcoming, 2016. “The Point of Precision”. Sharon Marcus, Heather Love, and Stephen Best, eds. The Arts of Description, special issue. Representations.
2015. “Afterword.” Archipelagos: A Voyage in Writing. Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean, eds. Duke University Press.
2015. Co authored with Lesley Stern. “Companion Pieces Written Through a Drift.” In Sensitive Objects eds. Jonas Frykman and Maja Povrzanovic. Lund, Sweden: Nordic Academic Press.
2015. “Preface” Affective Landscapes ed. Neil Campbell. London: Ashgate.
2015. “Place and Sensory Composition”. In The Intelligence of Place: From Topology to Poetics. Jeff Malpas, ed., Routledge.
2014. Co-authored with Elizabeth Lewis. “Affect and Emotion”. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. eds Dominic Boyer
2014. Co-authored with Jennifer Carlson. “Mood Work.” New Formations issue 82-83, pp. 40-70.
2014. “New England Red”. Non-Representational Methodologies. Phillip Vannini, ed. Routledge.
2014. “Tactile Compositions.” Objects and Materials. Penelope Harvey and Eleanor Casella, eds. Routledge, 775-810.
2013. “Matter Poems” Excursions: Telling Stories and Journeys. Hayden Lorimer and Hester Parr, eds. Special issue of Cultural Geographies, 119-224.
2013. “Regionality”. Geographical Review. 103 (2): 275-284
2013. “An Autoethnography of What Happens”. Handbook of Autoethnography. Eds. Stacey Holman Jones, Tony Adams and Carolyn Ellis. Left Coast Press, 880-920.
2013. “A Life, A List, A Line”. in The Social Life of Achievement. Ed. Nick Long, Cambridge University Press, 222-256.
2012. “Pockets” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Vol. 9, No. 4, 365-368.
2012. “Precarity’s Forms. Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 27 No. 3, 518-525.
2010. “Refrains.” In The Affect Theory Reader, eds. Mellissa Greg and Gregory Seigworth, Duke University Press, 339-353.
2010. “Writing Critique.” Author reply to special issue on Ordinary Affects. Social and Cultural Geography. Ed. Maria Fannin. Vol 11, No 8.
2010. “Atmospheric Attunements”. Society and Space. Special Issue of Environment and Planning D. Ed. Mark Jackson. Vol. 29, No. 3, 445-453.
2008. co-authored with Scott Webel. “anthropologie now”. Anthropology Now, 1 (1), 51-54.
2008. “Weak Theory in an Unfinished World”. Journal of Folklore Research, volume 45, issue 1, 71-82.
2006. “Still Life” in Off the Edge: Experiments in Cultural Analysis. Eds. Orvar Lofgren and Richard Wilk. University of Copenhagen, pp. 91-96. (reprinted from Ethnologia Europaea 35:1-2. 2005).
2005. “Trauma Time: A Still Life” in Histories of the Future, Susan Harding and Daniel Rosenberg, eds. Duke University Press, pp. 321-340.
2005. “Cultural Poesis: The Generativity of Emergent Things.” Handbook of Qualitative Research, 3rd edition, eds. Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln. Sage, pp. 1027-1042.
2005. “Still Life” in Women on the Verge of Home, ed. Bilinda Straight. SUNY Press, pp. 27-44.(reprinted)
2005. Still Life. Ethnologia Europea. Journal of European Ethnology, volume 35, issue 1-2. Eds. Orvar Lofgren and Richard Wilk. Museum Tusculanum Press, pp. 91-96.
2004. “Signs” Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Rudy Abramson and Judy Haskell, eds., University of Tennessee Press, pp. 1637-40.
2003. The Perfectly Ordinary Life. Public Sentiments: Memory, Trauma, History, Action. Scholar and Feminist On Line, guest editors Ann Cvetkovich and Ann Pellegrini, 2:1 Summer. (nonpaginated. 10 single-spaced pages).
2003. with Susan Harding. “Anxieties of Influence: Conspiracy Theory and Therapeutic Culture in Millennial America” in Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order, Todd Saunders and Harry West, eds. Duke University Press, pp. 258-286.
2003. Arresting Images" in Aesthetic Subjects: Pleasures, Ideologies, and Ethics, Pamela Matthews and David McWhirter, eds. University of Minnesota Press, pp. 431-448.
2002. Machine Dreams" in Modernism, Inc.: Essays on American Modernity, Jani Scanduri and Michael Thurston, eds. New York University Press, pp. 21-28.
2002. “Scenes of Life” Public Culture 14:2, pp. 349-359.
2000. “Death Sightings” Cross Cultural Poetics, volume 3, issue 3, pp. 7-11.
2000 “Still Life.” in Intimacy, Lauren Berlant, ed., University of Chicago Press, pp. 405-420.
2000. "Real American Dreams (Can Be Nightmares)." in Cultural Studies and Political Theory, Jodi Dean, ed. Cornell University Press, pp. 243-257.
1999. "Conspiracy Theory's Worlds." in Paranoia Within Reason: A Casebook on Conspiracy as Explanation, ed. George Marcus, University of Chicago Press, pp. 13-20.
1999. "Bad Endings: American Apocalypsis." (co-authored with Susan Harding). Annual Review of Anthropology, volume 28, pp. 285-310.
1999.“Trauma, U.S.A.” in A - Z. Vol 1, No. 1, pp. 71-82.
1996. "An Occupied Place." in Senses of Place, Steven Feld and Keith Basso, eds. School of American Research, pp. 137-166.
1995. “Bitter Faiths." in Technoscientific Imaginaries: Conversations, Profiles, and Memoirs, George Marcus, ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 381-97.
1993. "Nostalgia: a Polemic." in George Marcus, ed., Re-reading Cultural Anthropology, Duke University Press, pp. 252-266. (reprinted)
1993. "Engendering Narratives of Lament in Country Music." in All That Glitters: Country Music in America, George Lewis, ed. Bowling Green State U. Press, pp. 224-228.
1991. "On the Politics of Cultural Theory: A Case for `Contaminated' Critique." Social Research. 58(2), pp. 395 412.
1990. "Back talking the Wilderness: `Appalachian' En genderings." in Uncertain Terms: Negotiating Gender in American Culture, Faye Ginsburg and Anna Tsing, eds.,. Boston: Beacon Press, pp. 43 56.
1988. "Nostalgia: a Polemic." Cultural Anthropology, 3(3), pp. 227 241.
1981. "Symbolic Dynamics of Male Dominance and Male Ranking: Historical and Contemporary Cases from American Culture." Michigan Discussions in Anthropology, 6(2), pp. 36-79.
1980. "The Marriage of Capitalist and Patriarchal Ideologies: Meanings of Male Bonding and Male Ranking in U.S. Culture." in Women and Revolution, Lydia Sargent, ed. Boston: South End Press, pp. 269-312.
New England Red
New England Red
Redness is a refrain scored onto the material-affective landscape of New England. A contact aesthetics of a love affair with color and light that begins not in the socially constructed meaning of the apple or the maple tree’s red leaves in autumn, but in the banal and sentimental labors of becoming sentient to a world. Redness is lodged in the actual circulations and lived affects of the first colonial attachments to primary colors, the dairy industry and the maple sugar cottage house, picturesque calendars, a body of poetry, the popularity of Yankee magazine’s compositions of steady old no-nonsense ways.
New England redness has a prismatic ecology. It fans out in singularities capturing the quality of redness in the spark from red leaf to red barn to red apple against white snow, white steeple, white houses green grass, green mountains dark, dark ocean, lakes, ponds, the white red blue of flags everywhere, buntings, the primariness of color here. I ask how redness here became ambient, atmospheric, a worlding. How it nudged hard matter into a mapping of visual saturation and exposure to the elements. How redness became an open ambit.
Forms of Attachment Discussion
Discussion: Forms of Attachment, ICI Berlin - 2012
Full Lecture Here
Affective attachments can be regarded as fostering a kind of complementarity, yet without negating the tense nature of mixed and sometimes contradicting feelings. We would like to investigate this aspect in more detail by posing the following questions: How do affective attachments function as structures of relationality that organize lived experiences of the present? What role do sensory registers play in the accretion of habits, histories, and rhythms of living into forms of sociality? What forms of life are made possible and available, disavowed and denied by ambivalent investments in objects of promise and nostalgia that appear increasingly frayed, including neoliberal good-life fantasies and images of sovereign and imperial nation-states? How are these investments sustained and how do they circulate in what Kathleen Stewart describes as the “charged atmosphere” of ordinary living?
"Method Acting" | Afterlives
Leading anthropologist Kathleen C Stewart gives a talk on the charged atmospheres of everyday life, attuning to the ecology of practices and methods of acting. "Sometimes an attunement to whatever’s happening becomes so acute it drops into the pathic entrainment of method acting. Sharp little points of precision refract an ecology of practices. Little bits of social compost become a thing - a joke, a hat worn a certain way. Living and non-living things venture into an incipiency: “The mobile and immobile flickering / In the area between is and was” (Wallace Stevens). You try to keep your wits about you. You learn to catch a passing quip or to turn your head away. There are receptivity mistakes. Maybe the poise of a balancing act. At best, the fluidity of a perfect timing." - Kathleen C. Stewart
In conjunction with the French Institute Alliance Française’s Crossing the Line festival, and in collaboration with Columbia University School of the Arts as part of Curating the Ephemeral, MoMA's Department of Media and Performance Art hosts three talks for Afterlives: The Persistence of Performance. Convened by Adrian Heathfield and André Lepecki, Afterlives addresses the ways in which so-called ephemeral art persists over time. Performance is increasingly documented, archived, institutionally incorporated, and globally disseminated. While its ephemeral nature is often celebrated, its inherent transience binds it to its many returns—its mediations and afterlives. Today, criticism is focused more on the recurrence and persistence of performance than on its disappearance. Performance’s material remains linger as vague memories, oral legend, transmitted techniques, or infrastructures of feeling.
(Turkish Translation of Ordinary Affects)
A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an 'Other' America
A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an 'Other' America
Princeton University Press