Carolyn Burdett, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Patrizia Lombardo, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Pirjo Lyytikäinen, University of Helsinki, Finland
Matthew Potolsky, University of Utah, USA
The Conference End Games and Emotions focuses on the affective aspects of literature and arts sensitive to the threats and fears of modernity, like the ideas that “all that it solid melts down”, that the modern culture and modern man is decaying, or that the whole existence of human life may be threatened by different aspects of modernization process. We ask how moods and emotions are depicted and evoked and emotion effects produced by the literature and art of what we call the long twentieth century. With this notion we understand broadly the period beginning with the nineteenth-century naturalism and decadence, encompassing the twentieth-century developments of a variety of modernisms, and reverberating into the contemporary literary and artistic or musical scenery. Focus on the dystopic and decadent, on fears rather than hopes concerning modernity, gives a precedence to negative emotions and dismal moods but also invites considerations of the ambiguity of emotions, oxymoronic expressions like the entanglement of pleasure and “ugly” feelings, and the positive functions of evoking negative affects. We ask how the aesthetic feelings relate to depicted and evoked horrors or misery, how ecstasies alternate with depression and melancholy, and what are the critical and ideological stakes of evoking emotions and affecting audiences. All in all, the multiple functions of emotion effects as well as the variety of ways in which artworks affect audiences are a central field of discussion which we hope to open by the conference.
Conference is supported by the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of Estonian Academy of Sciences Astra project.