Current research in the arts and humanities operates in the wake of what has been termed the “affective turn” (Clough and Halley 2007). Since feminist and queer theory turned our gaze on the body, the emotions have become a major site of interest across the disciplines. The term affect, which derives from the Latin affectus, meaning “mental or emotional state or reaction,” is today used both generically as an umbrella term to indicate the emotions and more technically to designate a particular subset of this domain. Attempts to encapsulate the meaning of affect in shorthand are impeded by the fact that theorists of affect have taken pains precisely to distinguish affect from rather than as “feeling” or “emotion” and because affect acquires its significance as that which eludes conscious definition or straightforward articulation. Nevertheless, the OED ventures a definition of affect as a “feeling or subjective experience accompanying a thought or action or occurring in response to a stimulus; an emotion, a mood.”

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