Arguing that affect has a history, Ann Cvetkovich challenges both nineteenth- and twentieth-century claims that the expression of feeling is naturally or intrinsically liberating or reactionary. The central focus of Mixed Feelings is the Victorian sensation novel, the fad genre of the 1860s, whose controversial popularity marks an important moment in the history of mass culture. Drawing on Marxist, feminist, and Foucauldian cultural theory, Cvetkovich investigates the sensation novel's power to produce emotional responses, its representation of social problems as affective ones, and the difficulties involved in assessing the genre as either reactionary or subversive. She is particularly concerned with the relation of gender and affect since many of the sensation novels were written by and for women, and women. By examining the powerful conjunction of ideologies of affect, gender, and mass culture, Cvetkovich reveals the powerful political effects of affective expression and sensational representations.