Submitted by Russ Kilbourn
PhD candidate Anders Bergstrom, Professor Christine Daigle (Brock Philosophy/ Interdisciplinary Studies), and Professor Russell Kilbourn presented papers in a panel, “What Comes After Affect?—The ‘Non-Human Turn’ and the New Master Narrative(s)” at the Narrative Studies Conference in Amsterdam, June 16-18, 2016.
The papers emerged in response to the general question: what comes after affect, when ‘post-affective’ culture signifies not the end of affect but its total dissemination? The degree and status of affect at the level of uncritical consumption, and for everyday life, is markedly different from its value for contemporary critical theory, showing how historically out-of-step the latter is with the ways in which real people actually experience things affectively, before the disruptive interposition of ideology, reason, consciousness, higher brain functions–those features of conscious or unconscious human experience that have heretofore defined the human in contradistinction to that which is non- or other-than-human. From the positing of a set of philosophical parameters for a new theory of post-affective, ‘posthuman’, subjectivity, the panel moved to a pair of theory-based readings of specific filmic examples.
The conference was held at the University of Amsterdam in the historic city centre, within walking distance of the major tourist sites, as well as a great many of Amsterdam’s famous ‘coffee shops’. (On at least one occasion we had the opportunity to discover that these shops do in fact sell coffee.) A comparatively large international event, the conference included no less than 109 panels involving approximately 380 presenters over three days, with three keynote speakers—Espen Aarseth, IT University of Copenhagen (“Fifty Shades of Play: Making Sense of the Game-Story Landscape”), Clare Hemmings, The London School of Economics (“Feminist Articulations: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality in a New Feminist Landscape”), and Roberta Pearson, University of Nottingham (“The Cohesion and Expansion of Fictional Worlds”)—each of whom spoke on a cutting edge topic in narrative theory. In addition, six ‘Contemporary Narrative Theory Speakers’ led roundtable discussions on specific topics.
Conference participants agreed that organizers Tara MacDonald and Daniel Hassler-Forrest did an exemplary job planning the event—especially in terms of the social dimension. In addition to the closing night dance party, pictured here, the conference kicked off with an opening reception at the new EYE film museum, a short ferry ride across the harbor from the central station. In the end we were surprised to learn that narratologists really know how to have a good time, and that Amsterdam is still one of the best cities in the world.