1st Edition

The Productivity of Negative Emotions in Postcolonial Literature

    304 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume explores the possibilities and potentialities of “negative” affect in postcolonial literature and literary theory, featuring work on postcolonial studies, First Nations studies, cognitive cultural studies, cognitive historicism, reader response theory, postcolonial feminist studies, and trauma studies. The chapters of this work investigate negative affect in all its types and dimensions: analyses of the structures of feeling created by socio-political forces; assemblages and alliances produced by negative emotion; enactive interrelationships of emotion and environment; and the ethical implications of emotional response, to name a few. It seeks to rebrand “negative” emotions as productive forces which can paradoxically confer pleasure, agential power, and social progress through literary representation.

    List of Contributors



    Introduction / Donald R. Wehrs, Isabelle Wentworth, and Jean-François Vernay


    Chapter 1: Ontology of Diasporic Emotions in If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel / Angelo Monaco

    Chapter 2: The Productivity of ‘Negative Emotions’ Through Shock Value Fiction: The Case of Australian Indigenous Writers / Jun Feng & Jean-François Vernay

    Chapter 3:  Negative Emotions in the Light of Neuropsychoanalysis: The Generative Matrix of Witi Ihimaera’s Multigenerational Saga / Alistair Fox


    Chapter 4: First-hand Experiences of the Transformation of Traumatic Memories and Cascading Emotions in the Creative Writing Process / Liane Gabora & Sue Woolfe.

    Chapter 5: Managing COVID-19 Anger and Anxiety: The Quarantine Train and the Affective Functions of Online Poetry / Hannah Pardey


    Chapter 6: Representing and Resisting Maternal Melancholy in Buchi Emecheta’s Second-class Citizen and The Joys of Motherhood / Sonya Andermahr

    Chapter 7: Disaffection and Retrieved Agency in Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies”/ Donald R. Wehrs

    Chapter 8: On Postcolonial Disappointment: Affect’s Formal Politics in Post-Transition Narrative from South Africa / Andrew van der Vlies 


    Chapter 9: ‘Solastalgia’ as an Epistemic Approach: “A Map to the Next World,” “Averno,” and the Power of Negative Affect / Joydeep Chakraborty

    Chapter 10: “The squeals and groans are the same”: Horror and Subject-Development in Sydney Bridge Upside Down / William Shaw

    Chapter 11: Fear in Indigenous Literatures of the Global South: The Poetry of Graciela Huinao and Ellen van Neerven / Isabelle Wentworth

    Chapter 12: On Negative Emotions in Apocalyptic Cultural Memories: Literary Affects of Estrangement in “Postcolonial” Acadie / Matthew Cormier  


    Chapter 13: “A Cold Rage Penetrated Her Body”: The Transformative Power of Anger in Shahrnush Parsipur’s Women Without Men / Mélanie Heydari 

    Chapter 14: On the Other Side of Anger: Nature, Ecology and Culture in Rushdie’s Shalimar, the Clown / Lalita Pandit Hogan 

    Chapter 15: Negative Affect to Positive Resistance: Indignation in Césaire’s Une Tempête / Bradley Irish



    Jean-François Vernay is the author of five monographs among which The Seduction of Fiction: A Plea for Putting Emotions Back into Literary Interpretation (2016), translated into Mandarin by Dr Jun Feng, La séduction de la fiction (2019), and Neurocognitive Interpretations of Australian Literature: Criticism in the Age of Neuroawareness (Routledge, 2021). He has also edited a Routledge volume: The Rise of the Australian Neurohumanities: Conversations Between Neurocognitive Research and Australian Literature, published in 2021. His monographs have been taken up for translation into English, Arabic, Korean, and Mandarin.

    Donald R. Wehrs, Hargis Professor of English Literature at Auburn University, Auburn, AL USA, is editor or coeditor of five collections, most recently Cultural Memory: From the Sciences to the Humanities (Routledge, 2023) and The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism (2017). He is author of four monographs, most recently Ethical Sense and Literary Significance: Deep Sociality and the Cultural Agency of Imaginative Discourse (Routledge, forthcoming), as well as essays on literary theory, Shakespeare, postcolonial studies, 18th-century British fiction, and comparative literature.

    Isabelle Wentworth is a teacher in literary studies at the University of New South Wales. Her research is in cognitive literary studies, particularly within the contemporary literature of Australia and South America. Her work has been recently published in Poetics Today, Textual Practice, Cognitive Systems Research, and Hispanic Studies Review, among other international journals. Her first monograph, Catching Time: Interaction, Cognition, and Temporality in the Novel (Routledge) was published in 2024.

    "The Productivity of Negative Emotions in Postcolonial Literature promises to stand out among emotion studies for its simultaneous respect for scientific research and socio-historical context. Taking diverse approaches to emotions labeled “negative,” its scholars engage the latest cognitive, philosophical, and historical studies of emotions without giving any one field the final word."

    Laura OtisSamuel Candler Dobbs Professor of English Emerita, Emory University, USA

    “This collection draws a fascinating affective map of the postcolonial condition through a range of emotional conflicts articulated in literature that stretches across modernity all the way to our globalized and digitized present. Given the historical realities of power and oppression, this collection on the negative is a richly productive step both along the planetary terrain of postcolonial literary study and the restless archive of critical theory.”

     -Saikat Majumdar Professor of English and Creative Writing, Ashoka University, India