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date: 22 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In his short stories, novels, social writings, essays, and letters, London repeatedly comes face-to-face with a dilemma: how to participate in a powerful new mass culture characterized by sensation and consumption while remaining dedicated to a public sphere of reflection and critique. This essay argues that in order to address this dilemma, London develops an understanding of sensation and experience (what he sometimes called “the feels”) as a form of critical reflection. In this light, London’s stories share a vision of affective criticality with Walter Benjamin, as well as more recent theorists of the affective-based public sphere like Oscar Negt, Alexander Kluge, and Michael Warner.

Keywords: public sphere, mass culture, affect, Walter Benjamin, sensation

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