Kathleen Stewart: "Worldly Thinking"

Departmental Seminar Series features Kathleen Stewart, Professor of Anthropology, The University of Texas, Austin.

The seminar is followed by informal gathering, at which refreshments are served. All are welcome!

Copyright: The University of Texas, Austin


This is a poetic experiment that speculates on writing, affect, politics, and processes of worlding. Following what Whitehead called worldly thinking and what Isabelle Stengers calls thinking from the middle, it highlights the kind of concept that is a reverb between word and world, a transposition of the existing knowledges already possible in a joke or a gesture. Using snap shots, ficto-criticism, sensory ethnography, and what Donna Haraway calls “staying with the trouble,” this talk traces accretions, follows paths lit up in a rhythm interrupted, the shoot of an affect, trouble brewing in a posture. Worldly thinking is an affective-aesthetic-social-political trace of singularities gathering and dissolving. For Bruno Latour, every world is composed of disjointed pieces and angles but actively composed. For Erin Manning and Brian Massumi, “Every practice is a mode of thought... To dance: a thinking in movement. To paint: a thinking in color. To perceive in the everyday: a thinking of the world’s varied ways of affording itself.” These are the events of worlds. The writer, the artist, the walker, a person with a habit or a need, tries to be in the thought of a spark of color, a tonal difference, or a modulation in tempo. Anything can start to act like a hinge. The questions get basic – what is it, what’s it doing, what’s in this consistency of rhythm, that tendency dilating, the smell of a ripening?

Research profile

Professor of Anthropology Kathleen Stewart writes and teaches on affect, the ordinary, the senses, and modes of ethnographic engagement based on curiosity and attachment. Her first book, A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an `Other' America (Princeton University Press, 1996) portrays a dense and textured layering of sense and form laid down in social use. Ordinary Affects (Duke University Press, 2007) maps the force, or affects, of encounters, desires, bodily states, dream worlds, and modes of attention and distraction in the composition and suffering of present moments lived as immanent events. Her current project, Worlding, tries to approach ways of collective living through or sensing out. An attunement that is also a worlding.

Her first book, A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an "Other" America (Princeton, 1996) was recognized by the Chicago Folklore Prize and the Victor Turner Prize for best ethnography. Publications


Published June 6, 2018 11:08 AM - Last modified Aug. 20, 2018 1:23 PM