This project came out of conversations we had about ten years ago that took place between sessions at meetings of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA). We couldn’t help but notice the lively interest in affect at these meetings. No doubt, scholars interested in the conjunction of literature and science and art were finding opportunities to think about the affects in new and compelling ways. But we noted a certain narrowness in how these panels approached questions of affectivity: there was extensive use of Deleuzian and Whiteheadian frameworks and the distinct absence of speakers taking up Tomkins’s thinking. We were concerned that the so-called affective turn was leaving out what struck us as a valuable resource for cogent critical and political thought. Because we had each (separately) taught Tomkins’s theories in the classroom and used them in our research, we realized the significant challenge involved in making his work legible and comprehensible for audiences in the humanities and social sciences. We decided to pursue this Handbook as something like a translation project so as to make Tomkins’s thinking more accessible to our students, our colleagues, and scholars in other fields.
Thanks, first, to Richard Morrison, former editorial director at the University of Minnesota Press, who expressed great enthusiasm for the project. We are grateful to Jason Weidemann, the current editorial director, for his support and to Leah Pennywark, Holly Monteith, and Rachel Moeller for shepherding the project to completion. Lisa Blackman and Felicity Callard provided reader reports to the press that we found helpful in our final revisions.
We are very grateful to the staff at the Archives of the History of American Psychology, at the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, University of Akron, for assistance with their extensive holdings of Tomkins materials. We also thank the staff who helped us access materials at the Harvard University Archives (Henry A. Murray Papers), the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard University (Edward Bibring Papers), the Office of the President Records at Princeton University, and the University Archives and Records Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Lauren Abramson, Lauren Berlant, Sean McAlister, Michael Moon, and Ada Smailbegović encouraged our work on this project. We’re grateful for their support. Ingrid Meintjes did beautiful work as a research assistant, Peta Shera (miraculously) tracked down all Tomkins’s published works, and Samantha Wrisley provided invaluable help in preparing the final manuscript. Sarah McKee supported the process of making this book available open access through Emory University’s initiative for Digital Publishing in the Humanities, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and housed in the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. The University of British Columbia Scholarly Publication Fund offered assistance for indexing and permissions.
Adam thanks the graduate students in several iterations of his Affect Theory, Materialist Criticism seminar at the University of British Columbia for thinking so deftly with Tomkins’s ideas vis-à-vis literary and theoretical texts, films, comics, and other media. He also thanks participants in A Biocultural Hinge: Theorizing Affect and Emotion across Disciplines (May 1–4, 2013), an International Roundtable Discussion co-organized with Shelly Rosenblum (curator of academic programs at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery) and supported by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He is grateful to Gretty Mirdal for an invitation to present material from this book to the Brain, Culture, and Society group at the Institut d’études avancées de Paris, where he held a residential fellowship during 2018–19. He happily acknowledges the institute for its support during the time he completed chapter revisions. And, as always, he thanks Marguerite Pigeon for sustaining with him the muddle of positive and negative affect that is a long-term partnership or marriage.
It was in a Sydney-based Tomkins reading group, formed in the wake of Shame and Its Sisters, that Elizabeth first read her way carefully through Tomkins’s remarkable writing and encountered the strong feelings of identification, interest, and enjoyment that it can generate. She is grateful to Maria Angel, Susan Best, Anna Gibbs, Melissa Hardie, Doris McIlwain, and Gillian Straker for this joint reading enterprise. She thanks everyone who participated in the 2016–17 Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar (New Scholarship on the Affects) at Emory University as well as the graduate students in classes at Emory (on the affective turn; on theories of mind; and on theories of affect, attachment, and intersubjectivity) who struggled along with her to make sense of Tomkins’s expansive and sometimes formidable texts. Her colleagues Carla Freeman, Lynne Huffer, and Michael Moon have been wonderful interlocutors on questions of affect for many years. Ashley Shelden made affectivity matter the most.
We would like to thank each other for the surprising, delightful experience of collaborating on this book, surprising because so often more enjoyable than expected. Strange to say, it’s actually been fun to think and write about Tomkins together. This project has given us the chance to develop and fine-tune our understanding of challenging material, to compare notes, and to test ideas in collusion. Writing as two is a much less lonely business than writing as one.
Finally, thanks to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick for introducing us to Tomkins’s writing in the first place. For one of us, reading the four volumes of AIC with Eve turned Tomkins into a lifelong companion. For the other, coming to Tomkins’s work through Eve’s exceptional readings greatly expanded her horizons. We dedicate this book to her.