A Silvan Tomkins Handbook

Foundations for Affect Theory

2020
Authors:

Adam J. Frank and Elizabeth A. Wilson

A Silvan Tomkins Handbook

An accessible guide to the work of American psychologist and affect theorist Silvan Tomkins

The brilliant and complex theories of psychologist Silvan Tomkins (1911–1991) have inspired the turn to affect in the humanities, social sciences, and elsewhere. Nevertheless, these theories are not well understood. With their extensive experience engaging and teaching Tomkins’s work, Adam J. Frank and Elizabeth A. Wilson provide a user-friendly guide for readers who want to know more about the foundations of affect studies.

Taking a cartographic approach to Silvan Tomkins’s considerable volumes of work, Adam J. Frank and Elizabeth A. Wilson extend the reach and significance of his theories of affect into new territories, problems, concepts, and tantalizing ways of approaching the ‘strange status of subjectivity.’ Unique, persuasive, and illuminating, A Silvan Tomkins Handbook is essential reading for advancing the field of affect studies beyond psychological individualisms of all kinds.

Lisa Blackman, author of Haunted Data: Affect, Transmedia, Weird Science

The brilliant and complex theories of psychologist Silvan Tomkins (1911–1991) have inspired the turn to affect in the humanities, social sciences, and elsewhere. Nevertheless, these theories are not well understood. A Silvan Tomkins Handbook makes his theories portable across a range of interdisciplinary contexts and accessible to a wide variety of contemporary scholars and students of affect.

A Silvan Tomkins Handbook provides readers with a clear outline of Tomkins’s affect theory as he developed it in his four-volume masterwork Affect Imagery Consciousness. It shows how his key terms and conceptual innovations can be used to build robust frameworks for theorizing affect and emotion. In addition to clarifying his affect theory, the Handbook emphasizes Tomkins’s other significant contributions, from his broad theories of imagery and consciousness to more focused concepts of scenes and scripts. With their extensive experience engaging and teaching Tomkins’s work, Adam J. Frank and Elizabeth A. Wilson provide a user-friendly guide for readers who want to know more about the foundations of affect studies.
A Silvan Tomkins Handbook

Adam J. Frank is professor of English at the University of British Columbia. He is author of Transferential Poetics, from Poe to Warhol and coeditor (with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick) of Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader.

Elizabeth A. Wilson is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University and author of Gut Feminism and Affect and Artificial Intelligence.
A Silvan Tomkins Handbook

Taking a cartographic approach to Silvan Tomkins’s considerable volumes of work, Adam J. Frank and Elizabeth A. Wilson extend the reach and significance of his theories of affect into new territories, problems, concepts, and tantalizing ways of approaching the ‘strange status of subjectivity.’ Unique, persuasive, and illuminating, A Silvan Tomkins Handbook is essential reading for advancing the field of affect studies beyond psychological individualisms of all kinds.

Lisa Blackman, author of Haunted Data: Affect, Transmedia, Weird Science

Adam J. Frank and Elizabeth A. Wilson beautifully demonstrate the distinctiveness, suppleness, complexity, and generativity of Silvan Tomkins’s writings and concepts. The handbook makes vividly and urgently clear how much there remains, in the twenty-first century, to unearth and think through in relation to this distinctive twentieth-century psychologist and to models of affect and subjective experience more broadly.

Felicity Callard, University of Glasgow

A Silvan Tomkins Handbook

Contents

Note on Quotations

Introduction

Part I. Affect

1. Drives

2. The Face

3. Evolution

4. Freedom

5. The Positive

6. The Negative

Interlude: Tomkins and Spinoza

Part II. Imagery

7. Images

8. Theory, Weak and Strong

9. Scenes and Scripts

10. Ideology

Interlude: Tomkins and Darwin

Part III. Consciousness

11. Psychoanalysis at the Harvard Psychological Clinic

12. Cybernetics

13. The Psychology of Knowledge

14. The Minding System

Acknowledgments

Chronology of Tomkins’s Life and Work

Bibliography of Tomkins’s Published Writings

References

Index