The Hundreds

Book Pages: 184 Illustrations: Published: February 2019

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies > Affect Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Critical Theory

In The Hundreds Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart speculate on writing, affect, politics, and attention to processes of world-making. The experiment of the one hundred word constraint—each piece is one hundred or multiples of one hundred words long—amplifies the resonance of things that are happening in atmospheres, rhythms of encounter, and scenes that shift the social and conceptual ground. What's an encounter with anything once it's seen as an incitement to composition? What's a concept or a theory if they're no longer seen as a truth effect, but a training in absorption, attention, and framing? The Hundreds includes four indexes in which Andrew Causey, Susan Lepselter, Fred Moten, and Stephen Muecke each respond with their own compositional, conceptual, and formal staging of the worlds of the book.


"In Berlant and Stewart’s hands, affect theory provides a way of understanding the sensations and resignations of the present, the normalized exhaustion that comes with life in the new economy. It is a way of framing uniquely modern questions." — Hua Hsu, The New Yorker

"The seemingly arbitrary parameters Berlant and Stewart put in place act out an illuminating thought experiment for the reader. . . . A haunting and thought-provoking read that asks readers to slow down and take stock of what is in front of them." — Julia Shiota, Ploughshares

"A roving adventure in critical prose. . . . Berlant and Stewart eschew a literary focal point for a broadly questioning spirit. . . . The point is not to 'track thing into their secret lairs,' or to place them in the 'so-called big picture,' rather, it is to look again, and encourage the reader look again too." — Michael Caines, TLS

"The Hundreds is playful and loose, it roams and discovers, only to drift elsewhere, but it works: it grounds theory, makes it real." — Casey Dawson and Christopher Schaberg, Los Angeles Review of Books

"The Hundreds focalizes an intrinsic desire to explore the world’s simplicities as the foundation for the potentiality of the extraordinary. Berlant and Stewart show that, indeed, ordinary life is ordinary and transformative, containing so many possibilities for thinking about who we are in the world, really." — Matt Morgenstern, Cleveland Review of Books

"The Hundreds, by cultural theorist Lauren Berlant and anthropologist Kathleen Stewart, is at once a bold thought experiment and a radical exploration of reflexive ethnographic writing. . . . The Hundreds is a must read for scholars interested in affect as another register of human experience that exists alongside the psychological and phenomenological." — Asha L. Abeyasekera, Feminism & Psychology

"This series of 100-word pieces, together with the reinvention of the index, is a much-needed affective intervention across the humanities. The Hundreds reminds readers, both in and out of academia, that our ordinary observations and everyday reporting of events can in fact be extraordinary; that critical theorization can be illuminated by creative practices and the questioning of form and process; and that experimental writing can generate kinetic registers of new sensations for old objects." — Rachel Presley, Departures in Critical Qualitative Research

"As compositions, the hundreds illuminate and obscure, defamiliarize and refamiliarize, reflect and refract (tip of the cap to Volosinov 1973) both their authors and the cultural artifacts that appear in them, and offer a way of archiving cultural moments in ways that acknowledge, even foreground, their affective power." — Seth Kahn, Anthropological Quarterly

"A speculative and seductive book. . . . The Hundreds asks us to pay attention to the capacious and crucial smallness of our everyday, to slow down and dial in to the richness and frustrations of ordinary encounters as a grounding and creative political practice." — Elisabeth R. Anker, Theory & Event

"In encounters with thought and sound, affects and objects, The Hundreds rides the reverb between word and world. . . . The Hundreds’ game of genre hopscotch plots a potential future for the fusion of critical theory and the poetics of our proximity to each other." — Alex Brostoff, Assay

“Movements of attention to mostly ephemeral sights and happenings. Movements of wry, bemused, wistful, perplexed attention that awaken desire and affection for things happening about us and quicken an urge to know more. We should read but a page here and there at a time, and let this attentiveness extend into the rustle and whir of things about us. And how the freshness and spring of the language works to make us see what we look at!” — Alphonso Lingis, author of Violence and Splendor

“Through seduction, coercion, intimate address, indifferent rambling, The Hundreds invites us to train with the writers, to entertain other ways of reading than through familiar academic protocols. We sense what it might be like to be unlike the writers. We experience what is in the air in these times. How easy it is to take a breath and inhale raw fear, paranoia. Or delight: as some unexpected affinity whacks us as we are about to turn the page. So we pause, think it over, and only then turn the page.” — Lesley Stern, author of The Smoking Book


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Lauren Berlant is George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is author of Cruel Optimism and The Female Complaint, both also published by Duke University Press.

Kathleen Stewart is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of Ordinary Affects, also published by Duke University Press.

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Lauren Berlant is the recipient of the 2019 Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Literature Section of Modern Language Association.

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