Interview with Ruth Leys (University of Toronto Quarterly)

We wanted to let you know that the current issue of the University of Toronto Quarterly includes an interview with Ruth Leys (Humanities Center, Johns Hopkins) about her important work in the history of science (regular readers of the blog will recall that we posted about her recent essay on Paul Ekman here). To access the interview online, please click here.

Here is an abstract of the interview article, which is entitled “Navigating the Genealogies of Trauma, Guilt, and Affect: An Interview with Ruth Leys”:

In this interview, Ruth Leys discusses her career as a historian of science and her research on contemporary developments in the human sciences, including Trauma: A GenealogyFrom Guilt to Shame: Auschwitz and After, and her current work on the genealogy of experimental and theoretical approaches to the affects from the 1960s to the present. Among the topics she covers are her investigation of the role of imitation or mimesis in trauma theory; why shame has replaced guilt as a dominant emotional reference in the West; the ways in which the shift from notions of guilt to notions of shame has involved a shift from concern about actions, or what you do, to a concern about identity, or who you are; why the shift from agency to identity has produced as one of its consequences the replacement of the idea of the meaning of a person’s intentions and actions by the idea of the primacy of a person’s affective experience; the significance of the recent “turn to affect” in cultural theory; and why the new affect theorists are committed to the view that the affect system is fundamentally independent of intention and meaning because they view it is a material system of the body.

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