More Than a Feeling? Critical Approaches to Emotion

Rage, fear, elation, trepidation: these are just some of the emotions brought out by political discussion in today's divisive climate. On the other hand, many young people feel desensitized to political drama and hopeless about the prospect of change.
Justin Jiminez

Instructor Justin Jiménez is currently teaching his second ExCollege course

This semester, More Than a Feeling? Critical Approaches to Emotion in Apocalyptic Times, taught by Justin Jiménez, a PhD candidate in Education and Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota, addresses those questions and more. Jiménez uses an interdisciplinary lens to consider how "emotions shape our orientations away or towards certain bodies, social experiences, and historical events...and explores [their] political potential."
Jiménez used his experience teaching Whose Diversity? Unpacking Inclusion and Transformative Justice at the ExCollege last spring as a jumping off point for developing his current course. He also reflects on how his "own positionality as a queer person of color navigating and teaching in predominantly white spaces" was important in understanding how emotions influence how we think about the self and society. He described beginning this semester by examining work from activists and scholars of color in order to “recognize emotion as not something we should merely regulate (mostly ‘positive’ affects), but also to… discover how their assumptions emanate from emotional positions that develop over time.” In other words, Jiménez wants students to understand how their emotions have shaped their social and political interactions, and how in the future they can harness their emotions to learn about and relate to the world.
To this end, Jiménez has various interactive and reflective activities planned for the course, including journaling, and an "Archive of Feelings" project, in which students will "curate creative musings and other materials to negotiate their evolving identities and worldviews." He's very supportive of the work of his students and wants to help them use theory to shape practice. Each of these discussions and activities in class help prepare students to use their emotional reflection as motivation for action.
The lesson to be learned from Jiménez’s class, then, is not to shy away from what we feel, but instead to embrace and harness emotions as directive energy. An emotion most certainly is more than a feeling!

About the Author

Zoe Leaf is a senior from New York City studying Child Study & Human Development and Food Systems & Nutrition. On campus, aside from working at the Ex College, she does research at the Child Health Equity lab, is a Co-Chair of the DREAM mentorship program, and is a leader with Peer Health Exchange and with FOCUS. When she's not running around campus, she can be found reading novels, watching Mad Men, and taking care of her many plants.