Understanding Affect

Trigg offers alternative ways to define emotion and affect in her essay. The one that stuck out most to me is “affect” as the modern day definition of “emotion.” I find it appealing because I never thought of affect as an emotion and never really understood the actually definition, but when compared to passion, emotion, feelings etc. I come to understand it as another way to describe feeling.

When Trigg defines affect as the modern word for emotion. I was surprised because I though it was an older word dealing with feeling because of the time period that we are studying as well as encountering the Affective Theory section of the course. She compares this to the older version of emotion that she defines as the passions, which was more familiar to me because I have done my own studies on the passions in literature.

After reading the essay I understand affect to be an feeling similar to emotion but at the same time Trigg offer different ways of defining affect that makes the actual meaning unclear, which supports her assertion that when studied within a certain context the meaning is up for interpretation. But overall, this study of feeling, passion, emotion, and affect help us to understand people and event of different time periods as the meanings change but the contexts to which they apply remain constant over time.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Affect

  1. I don’t know quite where you’re seeing “‘affect’ as the modern day definition of ’emotion'” in Trigg’s essay. It would be helpful to know where in the essay you’re drawing that from, specifically. The end of your second paragraph really confused me, too. The word that McNamer (and Trigg following her) describe as coming from the Middle Ages is “feelings” (and not “affect”). We haven’t had an “Affective Theory” section of the course–we had an “Affecting Loss” section, which is rather different.

    • I was referring to page six, the last sentence of the first paragraph reads, “In contrast to the newly popular word “affect,” “emotion” is the older term that carries the baggage of “common sense” and all that this implies for what is often taken for granted and untheorized in literary and historical studies” (Trigg 6). I interpreted this as emotion being the older term for affect which was previously widely understood and accepted as common sense but not researched.

      In reference to the second paragraph, I was expressing my personal understanding of “emotion’ and “affect” previous to reading the essay. It became clear on page 7, in the second paragraph, when Trigg reference McNamer’s essay, that Trigg is highlighting feeling as the more appropriate term for Middle English discussion of literature.

      I mistakingly labeled the “Affective Loss” section “Affective Theory” which is, as you stated, different. I brought this section up because the people’s actions in this section help me understand the term “affect,” as they outwardly express their state of feeling.

      I can see how the information came across as unclear, as I cover several points in the post but do not elaborate on them as extensively as I should.

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