Affect-ing discourse: Towards an embodied discourse analytics

Taylor and Francis
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Semiotics, 2011, 21 (5), pp. 633 - 644
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The contemporary retheorisation of affect is impacting on an increasingly wide range of disciplines/inter-disciplines in the human sciences. Of particular relevance for this paper are, on the one hand, the emphasis on embodiment and, on the other, the ideas of flow, intensity and contagion. Together, these challenge traditional views of affect as equivalent to emotion, emanating from the self and ending at the boundary of the self. Discourse studies has not yet been significantly influenced by the affective turn now taking place within social and cultural theory. It has largely maintained, albeit implicitly, the traditional view of affect. Yet, if all human interaction is inflected with affect, in the sense indicated above, a different model of discourse seems called for. This paper aims to make a contribution to the development of a new affect-ed discourse analytics by identifying a variety of linguistic and discursive phenomena that could contribute to such a project. We draw primarily on the work of linguistics, bringing to notice a range of phenomena that may be unfamiliar either because of their technicality or because of the problematic status of linguistics in much cultural theory. The paper proceeds via a brief genealogical account of current affect theory to note a range of language phenomena that have been or can be read in terms of individual feeling and suggests an analysis of several forms of interaction re-read in terms of affective contagion. This section of the paper constitutes a preliminary inventory of components of an affect-ed discourse analytics.
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