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“Infrastructures of Feeling: Digital Mediation, Captivation, Ambivalence” ─ Guest Lecture by Prof. Dr. Rebecca Coleman

Rebecca Coleman

Rebecca Coleman

On May 2, Prof. Dr. Rebecca Coleman from the University of Bristol will give a lecture at the Freie Universität Berlin.

News from Apr 18, 2024

Abstract: „What roles do feelings play in making and shaping shared but differentiated online experiences? This talk develops the concept of ‘structures of feeling’, proposed by the Welsh cultural theorist Raymond Williams in the mid-twentieth century to account for the dynamic qualities that compose and define a particular historical moment. Building on the centrality of art, media and aesthetics to Williams’ concept, I argue that the feelings generated, moulded and modulated by social media can be understood as key to today’s structures of feeling. These contemporary structures of feeling can be understood in terms of the captivation of digital mediation; where the lure of being ‘always on’ is both exciting and dulling. I offer the concept ‘infrastructures of feeling’ to attend to the ways in which feelings are not unified or unifying, but involve inequalities, difference and contestation, and are always complicated ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’ (Paasonen 2020). While work in media studies has most commonly understood as the network and physical systems which underpin media communications, I see infrastructures as also sensory and aesthetic (Berlant 2008, 2021; Larkin 2013, 2018), and as that which are at the edges as well as underneath. If infrastructures of feeling are understood in these ways, we require approaches that are able to detect and work within such ambivalence and evasiveness, including a re-understanding of what critique and resistance might look and feel like.” 

Rebecca Coleman is Professor in the Bristol Digital Futures Institute (BDFI) and School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) at University of Bristol, UK. Her research crosses sociology and media and cultural studies, and focuses on digital media and culture, temporality, presents and futures, the body and affect, feminist theory and interdisciplinary methodologies. Her most recent publications are Glitterworlds: The Future Politics of a Ubiquitous Thing (2020, Goldsmiths Press) and How to do social research with...([MA1] co-edited with Kat Jungnickel and Nirmal Puwar, 2024, Goldsmiths Press). She is currently writing a book on digital mediation, temporality and infrastructures of feeling, and is Researcher in Residence at Knowle West Media Centre, Bristol, where she is collaborating on work on community tech and digital futures.

The lecture is taking place in collaboration with the project “Contested Order of Emotions: (Anti-)Feminist Discourses on Social Media” of the CRC “Affective Societies[LRAG2] .

Date & location: 2 May 2024, 6pm in the seminar room L115 at the Seminarcenter, Otto-von-Simson-Str. 26.

Registration not required

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