Abstract

In this essay, I propose a new model and methodology for investigating the productive, layered ways in which affects operate in and through narrative texts in the communicative loops of reading and writing. I delineate this model by way of a dialogue between different concepts of worlding, world-building, and worldmaking circulating in narrative and affect theory, which provide connecting points between the two fields as well as diverging (Deleuzian, neuroscientific, phenomenological) approaches to affect. In developing these connecting points, the proposed syncretic model addresses the shortcomings of current uses of affect, including the foreclosure of textuality and subjectivity in Deleuzian conceptualizations and the narrow emotion concepts and generalizing tendencies of neuroscientific approaches. In reconceptualizing narrative worldmaking as a multidimensional, ‘multivectoral’ assemblage of heterogeneous elements, I detail how the rhetorical processes of narration and reading engage affects, bodily memories, and associations in layered transactions between characters, narrators, implied and actual readers and authors. Probing the model’s productivity through a reading of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, I spell out three sets of implications for narrative theory: I consider fictionality’s affective engagement in the world, the workings of distributed, nonsovereign agency in the loop of literary communication, and the potentials of reconfigurative reading as a methodology of ‘following’ affective complexity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-974X
Print ISSN
1063-3685
Pages
pp. 227-251
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-25
Open Access
No
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