For a long time, this book’s working subtitle was A Public Feelings Project
in order to name and acknowledge the open- ended and collaborative
process that enabled my writing. The collective energies of Public Feel-
ings groups in Austin, Chicago (Feel Tank), New York, and Toronto have
sustained the vision of salon- like gatherings in which thinking can be
speculative and feelings both good and bad are welcome. The book’s
initial seeds were planted at a conference called “Depression: What Is It
Good For?” partly organized by Feel Tank at the University of Chicago,
and before that at gatherings on the futures of feminism and sexuality
at the University of Chicago, Barnard College, and the University of Ari-
zona that were orchestrated by Lauren Berlant and Janet Jakobsen. It
grew in Public Feelings panels at American Studies Association, Mod-
ern Language Association, and Cultural Studies Association meetings,
and gained critical mass at a cluster of conferences organized by our
groups in 2007–8: “Anxiety, Urgency, Outrage, Hope . . . A Conference
on Political Feeling” at the University of Chicago, “Decamp: A Public
Feelings Toronto Project” at the University of Toronto, and “Political
Emotions” at the University of Texas.
In Austin, my work has been nurtured and sustained by at least three
generations of Public Feelings: an early group that included faculty and
graduate students (and I’d especially like to acknowledge Deborah Kap-
chan and Alyssa Harad); a collective that worked toward the Chicago
Political Feeling conference: Sam Baker, Neville Hoad, Ann Reynolds,
Janet Staiger, and Katie Stewart; and a cohort of newer colleagues,
whose members include Craig Campbell, Josh Gunn, Heather Hind-
man, Randy Lewis, Sofian Merabet, and Circe Sturm. I’d also like to
acknowledge: in Chicago, Feel Tank Chicago (Lauren Berlant, Rebecca
Zorach, Deborah Gould, and Mary Patten), as well as the organizers of
the Depression conference; in New York, the leadership of José Muñoz
and Lisa Duggan, and the presence of John Anderson, Nao Bustamante,
Lisa Cohen, Ed Cohen, Patricia Clough, Carolyn Dinshaw, David Eng,
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