Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth-Century America

The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women

This talk will be held via Zoom.

In this talk, Xine Yao will explore the racial and sexual politics of unfeeling—affects that are not recognized as feeling—as a means of survival and refusal in nineteenth-century America. Yao will trace how works by Herman Melville, Martin R. Delany, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Sui Sin Far engaged major sociopolitical issues in ways that resisted the weaponization of white sentimentalism against the lives of people of color. By theorizing feeling otherwise as an antisocial affect, form of dissent, and mode of care, Yao will suggest that unfeeling can serve as a contemporary political strategy for people of color to survive in the face of continuing racism and white fragility.

Free and open to the public.

Event accessibility information: To bypass stairs, visitors may enter via the automatic doors at the rear of the building, where there is a wheelchair-accessible elevator.

Dr. Xine Yao is Lecturer in American Literature to 1900 as well as co-director of the queer studies network qUCL at University College London. Their first book is Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth-Century America which has won Duke University Press’s Scholars of Color First Book Award as well as honorable mention for the Arthur Miller First Book Prize from the British Association of American Studies. Other accolades include the American Studies Association’s Yasuo Sakakibara Essay Prize. She is a BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinker and the co-host of PhDivas Podcast.