Organisation: axe PACT (Penser l’actuel: fiction, non-fiction), laboratoire VALE (EA4085), Université de Paris 4


Overshadowed by an ‘open future of infinite war’ (Butler 2004, 28), the post 9/11 global climate has witnessed turbulence on a scale that challenges the prognostics of an ‘end of History’ synonymous with the unimpeded spread of capitalism, liberal democracy and the rule of law (Fukuyama 1992). Even as a consensual politics appeared to hold sway into the early 2000s, political philosophy flagged up the dangers – and inadequacy – of models of global civil society, non-partisan democracy and good governance (Mouffe 2005; Rancière 2005, 2010; Sloterdijk 2010). Consensus, it was argued, strives to repress, if not eliminate the essence of the political – agon, the clash of competing social visions – while denying its own, profoundly ideological operation as a contingent set of hegemonic beliefs. Crucially, in suppressing or eliminating agon, consensus unleashes raw antagonism: an anger deprived of political channels, untethered from norms of adversarial contest, stoking ethnic hatreds, fuelling nationalist passions, aggravating the ressentiment of the disenfranchised. Instead of animating a reasoned, if passionate, dissensus, it descends into debased, manichean registers. Contemporary philosophers and cultural theorists have identified this strain of anger as a signature affect of our times – Arjun Appadurai’s Fear of Small Numbers (2006), Peter Sloterdijk’s Rage and Time (2010) and more recently Pankaj Mishra’s Age of Anger (2017) chart, in their different ways, the descent into ‘angry tribalism or equally bellicose forms of antinomian individualism.’ (Mishra 327) Much has been made of the simmering resentment of ‘forgotten populations’, a resentment orchestrated to political ends, instrumental in the Brexit vote and the advent of Trump. In a troubling echo of Lacanian theory, anger emerges as a latter-day objet a: an object-cause, enabling outcomes that are calculated to amplify it and trigger its most vicious manifestations. Thus the well-documented post-Brexit spike in hate crime may be the consequence of an ‘angry’ vote; yet clearly this anger is not spent when victory only serves to ‘license the unconscious’ (Rose 2016) in further acts of violence and vitriol.


This one-day seminar invites reflection on the topic of anger, in a resolutely interdisciplinary spirit. Papers are solicited in the following areas, which are intended to serve as guidelines only:

  • ·        Cultural form, artistic practice and the elusive durée of anger: how do cultural forms register this forceful affect? Does the volatility of anger resist aesthetic inscription? The modes of reception solicited and provoked by ‘angry’ art.


  • ·         The affinity of anger with the brief, the evanescent, the startling: slogan, manifesto, aphorism, tweet, flashmob (UK Uncut). Anger, brevity and the attention economy. Anger and the street: urban street culture, from Basquiat to Banksy


  • ·         The production, dissemination and circulation of anger on social media: the politics of digital rage.


  • ·         Anger: the psychosocial dimension. Aggressivity as defence against fragmentation of the ego (Lacan 1966) in an era of pervasive screen culture – the self trapped in the snares of narcissism and the maze of identificatory possibility, driven by envy and ‘appropriative mimicry’ (Girard 1972, 1978). The politically expedient uses of anger in affirming group identity with regard to a demonized Other


  • ·         The psychopolitics of anger: a fatal loop? The feminist and postcolonial questions: ‘How can women stake their claim to the institutions and forms of public being without entering the procession that leads to war?’ asks Jacqueline Rose (1996, 53) summarizing the argument of Woolf’s Three Guineas (1938). ‘How can the dispossessed claim their legitimate rights without taking on the psychic trappings of the oppressor?’ (J. Rose, on South African and Israeli history, ibid.). More recently, in the context of 9/11, Judith Butler asks ‘…what, politically, might be made of grief besides a cry for war.’ (Butler 2004, xii) Anger as contagion. Transformative justice: a workable antidote?


  • ·         Anger in affect theory


  • ·         Anger in performance, anger as performance: enactments of anger on stage, screen, street. The verbal and corporeal aesthetics of ‘conscious’ and ‘reality’ rap : anger in action


  • ·         Linguistics and stylistics: the diction of anger, the electrifying force of ‘bad words’ (Denise Riley in Lecercle and Riley, 2004). Hate speech and linguistic vulnerability (Butler, 1997)

Scholars in the fields of visual and performance studies, literature specialists, linguists and historians are welcome to submit proposals, in French or in English, of 250 words to Jagna Oltarzewska (jagna@wanadoo.fr) before September 1st 2018. Notification of acceptance will be given by September 30th 2018.





Appadurai, Arjun. Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger. Duke University Press, 2006

Butler, Judith. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. London and New York: Routledge, 1997

Butler, Judith. Precarious Life : the Powers of Mourning and Violence. London and New York: Verso, 2004

Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. 1992. Penguin, 2012

Girard, René. La violence et le sacré. 1972. Paris : Fayard, 2011

Girard, René. Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde. 1978. Paris : Le Livre de Poche, 1983

Klein, Adam. Fanaticism, Racism and Rage Online: Corrupting the Digital Sphere. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2017

Lacan, Jacques. Ecrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966

Lecercle, Jean-Jacques and Denise Riley. The Force of Language. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2004

Le Guin, Ursula K. “About Angerˮ. No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

Mouffe, Chantal. On the Political. Routledge, 2005

Mishra, Pankaj. The Age of Anger : A History of the Present. 2017. Penguin, 2018

Nussbaum, Martha. Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice. Oxford University Press, 2016

Rancière, Jacques. Chroniques des temps consensuels. Paris : Seuil, 2005.

Rancière, Jacques. Dissensus. (Steven Corcoran, tr. and ed.) 2010. London and New York: Continuum, 2011

Rose, Jacqueline. States of Fantasy: The Clarendon Lectures in English. 1996. Oxford University Press, 1998

Rose, Jacqueline. “Donald Trump’s victory is a disaster for modern masculinity”. The Guardian, online edition. 26 November 2016. Accessed 20 May 2018


Sloterdijk, Peter. Rage and Time: A Psychopolitical Investigation. 2006. (Mario Wenning, tr.) New York: Columbia University Press, 2010

Woolf, Virginia. Three Guineas. 1938. Chicago: Sturgis Press, 2013




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