Affect in the Age of Terror

This essay explains the rationale behind a willfully anachronistic creative writing prompt: if one of the British Romantics were alive today, how would he or she craft a literary response to 9/11 and the ensuing War on Terror? Instead of asking what makes the twenty-first-century experience of terror new, my assignment encourages students to approach today’s affective environment through the medium of British Romantic literature. The following discussion offers a pedagogical framework and theoretical justification for inviting undergraduates to map the untimely affects that fuse the contemporary age of terror with its Romantic-era double. The essay concludes with a survey of exemplary student work.