Victimhood and Subjectivity in the Melodramatic Mode.

November 11th and 12th, 2011, The University of St. Gallen

Concept and Organization Scott Loren and Jörg Metelmann

About “After the Tears”

Victimhood’s capacity to induce sympathy and motivate identification has a cultural history that can hardly be overestimated. Where primitive forms of victimhood are linked to sacrifice, the contemporary culture of victimhood has developed on the one hand in struggles against hegemonic power structures, and on the other as a form of social legitimation alongside the advent of the modern subject. From the rise of the confessional-style talk show (Eva Illouz) to the Tea Party’s “cult of victimhood” (Thomas Frank), the spectrum of cultural artifacts evincing victimhood as a powerful ontological category in western societies continues to expand. Its capacity as a mode of legitimation, though, has been a source of much debate. This conference seeks new articulations of the political potential of victimhood in relation to the “affective turn” and the homo sentimentalis. It is particularly interested in the aesthetic practices and codes that are mobilized in various popular media to characterize the position of the victim, and whether an intervention in this form of popular subject formation could (or must?) itself take an aesthetic form.


If you have any further questions, please contact us by mailing your name and inquiry to the following address: maximilian.schellmann(at)

View YouTube Playlist »

View Exposé »

View Program »

Sponsored by: