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Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Series Q)

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From Publishers Weekly

These essays, "a palimpsest of previously published and unpublished material," find Sedgwick expanding her
impressive critical powers to areas beyond literature and politics. Though she's best known for her work in queer theory
(Epistemology of the Closet), Sedgwick has always been interested in "performativity"-how people embody linguistic and
non-linguistic concepts. Sedgwick has hardly abandoned explorations of queerness-an essay on shame and Henry James's The
Art of the Novel is about as queer as theory gets-but these five pieces find her attuned to the textures of things, and
to things themselves. Her readings-of everything from Thackeray to "my friends who are thirty"-take on a sensual
quality, exploring the connections between "phenomenology and affect" and "what motivates performativity and
performance" and "what individual and collective effects are mobilized in their execution." Fearless, challenging and
occasionally exhilarating, Sedgwick remains one of the most courageous critics around.
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“Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick writes with intense precision, and yet her work directs us toward the domain where meaning is
music, unquantifiable, enigmatic, nonlinguistic. If the performative speech act, with all its relation to norms and
laws, is central to the reception of her work in queer theory, then the performativity of knowledge beyond
speech—aesthetic, bodily, affective—is its real topic.”—Lauren Berlant, author of The Queen of America Goes to
Washington City

“Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's gift is to electrify intellectual communities by reminding them that ’thought’ has a
temperature, a texture, and an erotics. With a generosity that is at once self-abnegatingly ascetic, and gorgeously,
exhibitionistically bravura, she opens door after door onto undiscovered fields of inquiry. There are too many high
points in Touching Feeling for me to list them. Sedgwick's language, richly garlanded, syntactically showstopping,
gives, everywhere, its characteristic, always surprising pleasure.”—Wayne Koestenbaum, author of Andy Warhol

“[Sedgwick’s] ideas about the structures of desire between men in fiction have generated critical work for others, as
her theories are put to work in rereadings of authors, texts, genres and periods. Any critic who so successfully
challenges the fundamental terms of the discipline, and opens up new subjects for others to write and publish about,
deserves fame and distinction. Moreover, Sedgwick's courage in speaking openly about her illness and about aspects of
her self that most academic women would keep private, including being fat, is very moving.” (Elaine Showalter London
Review of Books)

“[Sedgwick’s] miraculous prose keeps ideas and attitudes in play that would collapse into contradiction or program in a
lesser writer. . . . In the era of queer theory, Sedgwick’s miraculating writing keeps open a sense of sexuality as not
binarized, neither only instrumental nor irreducibly conflictual, even when she is most passionately engaged in the work
of advocacy. Today, writing through and after “queer” in a landscape of political impoverishment, Sedgwick’s thought and
writing function, as she would say, as a kind of semaphore: There is More Than This. I think we need her writing more
than ever.” (Christopher Nealon American Literature)

“Fearless, challenging and occasionally exhilarating, Sedgwick remains one of the most courageous critics around.”
(Publishers Weekly)

"Fifteen years after publication, and nine years after the death of its author, Touching Feeling stands out. Eve
Kosofsky Sedgwick’s book defined subjects, keywords, and literary-critical ambitions that dominated discussion in
English departments thereafter. Whether she set the future on this path or was superbly in tune with the contemporary
mood is unclear." (Mark Greif Chronicle of Higher Education 2018-10-31)

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