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on May 8, 2009
Ugly Feelings is an important new perspective in the discussion on the social significance of emotion. Ngai's exploration of chronic, non-cathartic emotions including envy, irritation, paranoia, tolerance, etc. is fascinating particularly within the political context she discusses. She shows how certain emotions are considered shameful by society and thus repressed by individuals who experience these emotions, or the emotions are vague or generalized so they do not motivate us to action. Unlike strong feelings with direct objects, most "ugly feelings" prohibit individuals from acting, or exerting political agency on their own behalf. Ngai examines these emotions at work throughout a wide range of nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature and film.
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on October 11, 2008
This book is stuffed full of smart and startling ideas, as well as fresh interpretations of an astonishing range of things from feminist theory to recent poetry, television, film, novels, contemporary art. I found the book a total delight to read, all manner of texts and issues are handled lightly, imaginatively and incredibly intelligently, if on occassions somewhat quickly. Ugly feelings, the main theme of the book, are states we don't like to examine, yet Ngai's book demonstrates how much can be gained from careful attention to them--the study of irritation in Nella Larsen's Quicksand is fantastic. The book is also an object lesson in how to think about the affective dimension of diverse cultural practices.
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on February 28, 2011
I'm somewhat perplexed by the negative reviews. There are books we like, others we don't - i like that, I get it. I may be misreading the critiques, but it appears the reviews are faulting Ngai for creating new terms. And by extension, her arguments, analysises, readings have no firm theoretic basis. Uhhm, this is how new knowledge is produced - by forging novel, relevant concepts. By calling into question or re-configuring existing concepts. Not willy-nilly but in a sustained, trenchant and thoughtful way. Ugly Feelings resists staleness.

I love this book,I think it's absolutely brilliant!
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on July 6, 2015
the kindle edition is missing all of the images from the print edition.
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on May 13, 2008
I don't know what's up with those other readers, but this is a quirky, smart, compelling and useful contribution to literary & cultural studies. Not only is it well written, it's the kind of book us critics read with envy. (Speaking of ugly feelings!) I will be teaching chapters of this book in graduate seminars, and in upper-division undergraduate classes. It is a fine example of what critical projects can be and do.
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on May 20, 2007
Overall the book is an interesting idea, but disappointing in its execution.

The objective of this book is to use literature and film as a means of exploring some of the more neglected emotional aspects of personal interaction. The major flaw is the writing style. It is overwhelmingly pretentious, to the point of being almost unreadable. Every chapter reads like a bad college essay in which the author is trying too hard to appear intelligent, using a long word (sometimes incorrectly) when a short one would have been a better fit and more readable, and packing each sentence with as many subclauses and parenthetical distractions as possible.

If you can make it past the bad writing, there is some good content here, but it's hard work, and once you unpack some of the arguments from their obfuscated language, they often turn out to be quite flimsy. This is a shame, because the author certainly seems to have a wide knowledge of literature to draw upon, and the premise of the book is a good one.
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on February 12, 2007
it was bound to be a rocky road when Ngai invented a word for a psychological state in the introduction. Ngai devotes an entire chapter to this newly invented term. Is this an attempt to mimic Heidegger? The word is even a quasi-Kompositor, rather like Dasein! Although filled with brilliant references, the book did not deliver. A philosophical who's who name and quote dropping nuisance with some pop-culture and psychology tossed in the mix. Adorno, Nietzsche or Heidegger directly were more exciting. I read this book in English and perhaps it is better if read in another language, but I won't be reading it twice.
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