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Mood - Aesthetic, Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives

An Interdisciplinary Two-day Conference at the University of Warwick

6th and 7th May 2016


Individual moods have often been explored in literary and cultural studies, yet sustained theoretical reflection on mood is still in its infancy. Is this, perhaps, because moods are so elusive? An underlying mood may surface as an emotion, or it may deepen and congeal into a character trait. Yet if moods seem to be everywhere and nowhere, their value may lie precisely in bridging distinctions and lubricating relations between ostensibly separate entities: self and other, films and viewers, thought and feeling, scholarship and daily life.”

(Rita Felski, Susan Fraiman (2012): “Introduction.” New Literary History 43:3, In the Mood.)


Mood is an affective phenomenon located at the intersection of philosophy, aesthetics, musicology, psychology and sociology. It is as central to our experience of the world and of art as it is difficult to grasp theoretically. Bringing together scholars from various disciplines, this two-day conference will foster an interdisciplinary discourse about the nature of mood and its significance for human and aesthetic experience. As an emerging topic in literary criticism, mood has been problematised in a number of recent publications, in which critics have turned to other disciplines, especially psychology and musicology, in order to develop theories of mood. At the same time, scientific disciplines, such as psychiatry and cognitive science, examine this phenomenon empirically in relation to mood disorders like depression. However, thus far the interdisciplinary potential harboured by mood has not been explored sufficiently. The main objective of this conference is to bring together and to create synergy between disciplines whose research addresses the same phenomenon in different ways.


Keynote speakers:


Prof Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (Comparative Literature, Stanford University)

Author of Atmosphere, Mood, Stimmung: On a Hidden Potential of Literature (2012), Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey (2004) and After 1945 - Latency as Origin of the Present (2013).

Prof Giovanna Colombetti (Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of Exeter)

Author of The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind (2014) and co-editor of Emotion Experience, a 2005 special edition of the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

Prof Hagi Kenaan (Philosophy, Tel Aviv University)

Co-editor of Philosophy's Moods: The Affective Grounds of Thinking (2011) and author of The Ethics of Visuality: Levinas and the Contemporary Gaze (2013) and The Present Personal: Philosophy and the Hidden Face of Language (2005).


Creative performance:


Accomplished non-fiction writer Prof Mary Cappello (University of Rhode Island) will read from her forthcoming book Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack. She is the author of Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them (2011) and Awkward: A Detour (2007).


Please click here to view the abstracts for the keynote lectures as well as additional information about the keynote speakers.

Mood 2016 poster


This conference is funded by the Humanities Research Centre, the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies and the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts at the University of Warwick.

Organisers: Birgit Breidenbach, Prof Thomas Docherty

For more information, please contact mood dot warwick2016 at gmail dot com.

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