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2013 - American Studies Association Annual Meeting Words: 508 words || 
1. Conti, Gino. "Oh, I feel, I feel, I feel: Moravians, Wasted Labor, and the Afterlives of Enthusiasm" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Washington, Washington, DC, Nov 21, 2013 <Not Available>. 2018-09-20 <>
Publication Type: Internal Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: “Oh, I feel, I feel, I feel”* : Moravians, Wasted Labor,
and the Afterlives of Enthusiasm

In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber raises the specter of Nikolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, 18th century leader of the Moravians, a transatlantic Protestant sect that settled early American communities in Bethlehem, Pa. and Winston-Salem, NC. Zinzendorf’s focus on “letting people experience bliss…in the present,” Weber argued, “and to experience it emotionally, instead of instructing them to be sure of enjoying it in the hereafter through rational work” troubled the Calvinist asceticism he linked to the personality of the capitalist entrepreneur —what we have since come to call the Protestant work ethic (93-4).
This paper explores the way that Zinzendorf’s focus on affect, combined with a Lutheran understanding of grace as “free” and universally available, influenced both the gender and labor of 18th century Moravians, particularly those living communally in Bethlehem, Pa. during the 1740s. Through a close reading of both 18th-Century Moravian hymnody and anti-Moravian pamphlets, I examine the way that the sect’s devotion to a wounded, maternal Christ threatened materialist modes of productivity and capitalist temporality. The Moravians’ felt union with Christ—a passionate labor focused on the experience of grace and god in the now rather than on the accumulation of material goods as evidence of sanctification in the afterlife—was understood as diverting attention from the duties and affairs of the Moravians’ communal Bethlehem economy. Furthermore, this spiritual jouissance between Moravians and their savior—metonymized as the crucifixion wound below Christ’s breast, or Sidehole—also cross-gendered those Moravian brethren who fancied themselves passive brides of Christ, even as it figured Christ as feminine and as a mother who birthed believers’ souls through his Sidehole. Thus, the Moravians’ spiritual labor raised anxieties about gender and sexuality intertwined with those concerning money and time: their devotion to a maternal wound was perceived as excessive—as, essentially, wasted labor.
I close with a glance at how the anxieties represented in 18th century enthusiastic discourse were taken up in two successive historical moments: in 19th century Moravian historiography, which characterized the 1740s as a period of excess; and again in the early 20th century, as 18th century enthusiasms like Moravianism were taken up by psychosexual sciences such as psychoanalysis. These examples suggest the lingering disruptive potential of the 18th century Moravian’s untimely spiritual labor.

*Paul Peucker, “Songs of the Sifting: Understanding the Role of Bridal Mysticism in Moravian Piety during the late 1740’s.” Journal of Moravian History. 3 (2007): 51-87. p. 74.

Works Cited

Atwood, Craig D. Community of the Cross: Moravian Piety in Colonial Bethlehem. University Park, PA: Pennsylania State University, 2004.
Puecker, Paul. “ ‘Inspired by Flames of Love’: Homosexuality, Mysticism, and Moravian Brothers around 1750.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 15.1 (Jan. 2006): 30-64.
——. “Songs of the Sifting: Understanding the Role of Bridal Mysticism in Moravian Piety during the late 1740’s.” Journal of Moravian History. 3 (2007): 51-87.
Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the “Spirit” of Capitalism and Other Writings. Ed. Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.

2015 - American Sociological Association Annual Meeting Pages: unavailable || Words: 7595 words || 
2. Hutcherson, Benjamin. "Feeling Heavy, Feeling Doomed: Narratives, Embodiment, and Authentic Cultural Engagement" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Chicago and Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, Illinois, Aug 20, 2015 Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2018-09-20 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Although cultural sociologists have examined the politics of authenticity within various music scenes, such work has largely focused on this concept as an outcome of interaction between individuals in a particular field and the establishment of genre boundaries by musicians, fans, and various organizations (e.g. record labels, music venues). In this paper, I propose the concept of cultural engagement, an analytic framework that emphasizes 1) the discursive strategies people utilize when describing their relationships to art and 2) a conceptualization of embodied genre performances that includes the visceral, somatic experiences of producing and experiencing art. This model of cultural engagement provides insight into how individuals acquire the requisite vocabularies and behaviors to authentically participate in various cultural fields, how they evaluate others’ participation. Here, I focus on the notion of “heavy” within the doom metal music scene of Denver, Colorado and how it operates as a way of connecting intense, personal experiences that take place in the ritualized, collective practice of live music performances. I propose that this model of cultural engagement provides a way of expanding the model of the cultural toolkit and, in turn, rethinking how and why individuals feel strongly connected to music styles that exist outside of mainstream culture.

2017 - American Studies Association Annual Meeting Words: 331 words || 
3. Palmer, Tyrone. "Feeling Human, Feeling Black" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, <Not Available>. 2018-09-20 <>
Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: In his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, G. W. F. Hegel infamously states “We may conclude slavery to have been the occasion of the increase in human feeling among the Negroes.” This statement is indicative of the fact that over a century after its nominal abolition, the technologies of racial chattel slavery continue to shape and permeate reigning conceptions of what it is to be, to think, and to “feel.” This paper interrogates the centrality of racial slavery to the marking of affective capacity and the calcification of the category of the Human. Taking Hegel’s provocation as a theoretical point of departure, and reading him alongside poet-theorist Dionne Brand, this paper argues that racial slavery forms a nexus through which “human feeling” is imagined, studied, and articulated. Hegel’s statement, I argue, is paradigmatic (in that it is representative of an affective polarity with which we have yet to fully reckon) and counterintuitive (given the commonly held notion of the Human as a purely rational, cognitive being). Here, Hegel posits slavery as a mode of instruction which endows the Negro with a theretofore-unknown capacity for the feeling of Humanness. For this statement to hold weight, a particular mode of feeling must be an essential part of what it is to be Human, and the Negro can only grasp at this feeling through bondage. This institutes a paradox at the very heart of modern ontology, wherein the integration of the Negro into the sphere of Humanness is contingent on their continued captivity. This state of perennial capture is endemic to the Black position under Euro-modernity. In light of the Hegelian rendering of Human feeling and Black capture, Dionne Brand’s A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes on Belonging offers a rendering of captivity as a Black grammar of feeling through a sustained exploration of the “the Door” as historical sensorium. Through her poetics of the Door, Brand provides metaphoric and conceptual tools for approaching the unthinkable paradox of Black affect.

2015 - SRCD Biennial Meeting Words: 610 words || 
4. Hobbs, Doireann., Leech, Kathryn. and Rowe, Meredith. "Feeling-State Language Use by Parents During Bookreading Predicts Children’s Feeling-State Language Use and Narrative Ability." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the SRCD Biennial Meeting, Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, Mar 19, 2015 <Not Available>. 2018-09-20 <>
Publication Type: Individual Poster
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Parent language input contributes to children’s oral language skills and school readiness (Hoff, 2006). One element of parent input is feeling-state and emotion language (FSE), which is found to relate to children’s social-cognitive development. A recent study by Brownell and colleagues (2013) found that parents who asked their children to label and explain emotions depicted in books had children who helped and shared more quickly and more often than those whose parents did not. Other studies have found that training mothers to label their child’s feelings while talking with the child, leads to improvements in children’s emotion labeling and performance on tasks that require children to explain the causes of particular emotions (Van Bergen et al., 2009; Salmon, Evans, & Moskowitz, 2013). Further, in a study by Moss & Oden (1983), children who were taught a method to infer a person's feelings from narratives demonstrated improved narrative comprehension and knowledge of social interaction.
However, we currently have a limited view of whether parent’s and children’s FSE language during bookreading, relates to children’s narrative ability. Narrative skills strongly predict literacy achievement and also involve social perspective taking (Nicolopoulou & Richner, 2006) which could be enhanced by experience with FSE language. The current study investigates relations between parents' FSE language, children’s FSE language, and children’s subsequent narrative ability.
33 Parents and their five-year old children (21 girls) were videotaped in their homes reading a picture book and chapter from a chapter book together. All non-text speech by parents and children was reliably transcribed and coded for FSE language at the utterance level. FSE included words and phrases depicting emotions and feelings such as ‘happy, sad, afraid’ or feeling states such as affection (e.g. ‘he gave her a hug’). The number of FSE utterances for parents and children during the bookreading interaction was calculated. Children’s narrative ability was measured at a follow-up visit two years later (n=22) by having the child tell a narrative to the experimenter based on a wordless picture book (The Chicken Thief). The narratives were scored by counting the number of idea units (out of 21) that each child depicted from the story (M=14, SD=3.9).
During the interaction, parents averaged 5.52 FSE utterances (range: 0-26) and children averaged 1.09 FSE utterances (range: 0-8). Analyses investigating the relationship between parent and child FSE language use during the bookreading interaction demonstrated that the amount of parent FSE talk related to the amount of child FSE talk (r=.670, p < .05). Critically, children who were high FSE language users during bookreading had greater narrative ability two years later, even when controlling for non-FSE child speech during bookreading (r=.453, p < .05).
These findings highlight the importance of FSE language use, and suggest that encouraging parents to use FSE language during bookreading, as well as promoting the use of such talk in their children, may enhance the later narrative skills of their children.
(497 words)

2009 - American Studies Association Annual Meeting Words: 392 words || 
5. Barnes, Barbara. "I Feel Bonded to These People: Outdoor Adventure, Suffering, and Feelings of Belonging" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Renaissance Hotel, Washington D.C., <Not Available>. 2018-09-20 <>
Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: Beginning in the 1970s and lasting into the twenty-first century, practices and representations of “adventure” seemed to touch a nerve in the United States, as participation in outdoor “adventure sports” and “adventure travel” grew, and images of these practices proliferated in advertising and in print and television entertainment. In this paper, I draw on ethnographic interviews with adventure athletes and analysis of media images of outdoor adventure to explore how a sense of belonging is produced through the survival of physical and emotional suffering experienced in recreational and sporting practices.

I argue that the experiences of suffering in these “new” forms of recreation formed a meaningful sense of group belonging on at least two related levels: membership in a community of practice, and a sense of belonging in the nation. To discuss the production of belonging in a community, I draw on the narratives of suffering provided by participants, which consistently focused on the authenticity of experience and on the indelible bonds formed when pain has been shared and survived with teammates or partners. My discussion of the production of belonging in the nation is inspired by Lauren Berlant’s work on the power of sentiment in shaping the social bonds of national identity.

Representations and stories of suffering work as normalizing influences that reinforce national myths of equality and opportunity. The narrative that anyone can face the unpredictable elements of an adventure in the wild, or in late-modern capitalism, if she puts her mind to it, disciplines herself correctly, and perseveres, is captivating as it mirrors the national value and myth of a meritocracy, as well as the neoliberal value of personal responsibility. Yet the subjects who were represented and participated in adventure pursuits were (and are) some of the most privileged people in the world, in terms of wealth, education, health, race, and gender, and suffering is seen to provide non-ideological indications of selfhood. While those in privileged social positions have traditionally empathized with the suffering of the poor or “underprivileged” in the nation, and thus sought to address specific cases, the adversity they experience while participating in adventure allows them to actually feel the pain. Such framing of experience and its representations flattens attention to the sources of suffering, as it obscures public attention to structural violence and steers attention toward entertaining suffering, thus enabling uncomplicated narratives of national belonging.

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