skip to content

Auerbach Lecture | 20.11.2023 | 18 Uhr

Alexandra Irimia (Comparative Literature, Western University): The Administrative Grotesque. Affective Economies in Contemporary Bureaucratic Fiction


How do popular representations of administrative office work engage with the management of affects and its economic functions? Part of a larger project seeking to examine bureaucratic fiction as an autonomous genre, this talk focuses on the production, circulation, and exchange of affects in the seemingly dispassionate world of administration. More precisely, it follows up on recent scholarship (Illouz, Slaby, Richard and Rudnyckyi) that challenges “the dichotomization of economy and affect, and their relegation to separate spheres of social action and analysis” in order to study fictional illustrations of the “affective economies” (Hauke et al) shaping bureaucratic subjects and practices in the 21st century. In discussing their literary and cinematic representations, a particular emphasis falls on the concept of “administrative grotesque” (Foucault), explored as an aesthetic category able to mobilize a wide range of affective intensities, from lighthearted humor to dystopian horror.