Notes: Ann Cvetkovich, “Introduction,” in Depression: A Public Feeling

Cvetkovich, Ann. “Introduction,” in Depression: A Public Feeling. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.



Cvetkovich lays out a queer, feminist look at cultural studies with depression, in an effort to depathologize depression in a way that offers broader public critique.

Keywords: Depression, Culture, Cultural Studies, Affect, Feminism, Queer, Queer Theory, Memoir


Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

Eng, David, Judith Halberstam, and José Muñoz, eds. “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” Special issue of Social Text 84/85 (2005).


“How can we, as intellectuals and activists, acknowledge our own political disappointments and failures in a way that can be enabling? Where might hope be possible?” (1).

“Depression… is thus a way to describe neoliberalism and globalization, or the current state of political economy, in affective terms” (11).

“The forms of productivity demanded by the academic sphere of the professional managerial class can tell us something more general about corporate cultures that demand deliverables and measurable outcomes and that say you are only as good as what you produce” (19).

“[C]reativity can be thought of as a form of movement, movement that maneuvers the mind inside or around an impasse, even if that movement sometimes seems backward or like a form of retreat. Spatialized in this way, creativity can describe forms of agency that take the form of literal movement and are thus more e-motional or sensational or tactile” (21).

Questions, Reflection, Response:

This has been a moving read for me personally and professionally. As someone who suffers with depression and PTSD, I’ve been looking for someone to talk about depression in terms of culture and affect and was frustrated at my inability to locate such texts.

I always deal with symptoms during the summer months. I’ve talked with my mentors about the fantasy of summer and letting yourself grip with the reality that these moments may not be what you originally intended.

But the move I find extremely interesting is the move of the public, the political depression. That’s something I’ve contended with personally and collectively. It was certainly timely for me to read this too. Thinking in terms of the Orlando shootings, the cultural depression and trauma experienced around this is immense.

How can this depression be a moment of productive potential?

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