Cringe studies

This course is part of the programme
Master's Degree Programme Humanities Studies

Objectives and competences

  • To provide insights into the foundations of interdisciplinary theories of alienation and postmodern poetics;
  • To show the relations between paradigmatic theories, psychological phenomena and socio-historical contexts;
  • To promote autonomous, critical-creative and autopoetic thought;
  • To highlight the historical parallels and social conditions of cringe.


No conditions for entry.
Requirements for the exam: seminar paper or essay


Raymond Williams once wrote that we can discern the dominant structure of feeling between the lines of discourse that shape a particular historical period. Social scientists and humanists usually have no particular difficulty in identifying and analysing the dimensions of (moral) panic, (economic) depression or (collective) euphoria. What is more difficult to understand is the experience of the uncomfortable but empathic shame that shapes the structure of feeling of the current younger generations. In addition to being a subjective and collective experience of living in an era of post-truth, cringe is a cultural phenomenon of outrageous humour, cynicism, social critique and poignant poetics that manifests itself in digital, cinematic, artistic and literary texts.
By examining examples of diverse cultural manifestations, students are introduced to paradigmatic concepts that offer different etiological explanations of the phenomenon of cringe. In doing so, they learn the basics of philosophy, sociology, psychoanalysis and narratology. Since cringe studies is an emerging field of research, students will have the opportunity to observe and actively participate in the process of academic research on social phenomena. In the final part of the course, students write an independent analysis of cringe or the auto-theoretical work.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

(Student ...)

  • acquires knowledge of the different structures of feeling;
  • can reflect on the social meaning and role of cringe and related experiences;
  • is aware of the importance of theoretical concepts in explaining everyday phenomena.


(Student ...)

  • develops the ability to make syllogistic inferences at the level of analogy;
  • develops the ability to understand the links between one's own affects and social conditions;
  • Develops the ability to understand the relationship between affects and aesthetic form.


  • Ahmed, Sara (2004). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Catalogue
  • Bauman, Zygmunt (2007). Liquid Times: Living in the Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity.
  • Fournier, Lauren (2021). Autotheory as feminist practice in art, writing, and criticism. Cambdrige (MA); London: The MIT Press. Catalogue
  • Feather, N. T. (2007). Devaluing achievement within a culture: Measuring the cultural cringe. Australian Journal of Psychology 45 (3): 1821–188.
  • Fischbach, Frank (2012). Brez predmeta: kapitalizem, subjektivizem, odtujitev. Ljubljana: Krtina Catalogue
  • Frankfurt, G. Harry (2005). On Bullshit. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press. Catalogue
  • Freud, Sigmund (2021). Nelagodje v kulturi. Ljubljana: Intelego. Catalogue
  • Kristeva, Julia (1982). Powers of horror: an essay on abjection. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Middleton, Jason (2013). Documentary's Awkward Turn: Cringe Comedy and Media Spectatorship. New York; London: Routledge.
  • Pfaller, Robert (2019). Interpasivnost: radosti delegiranega življenja. Ljubljana: Zavod Maska.
  • Catalogue
  • Phillips, A. Arthur (2005). The Cultural Cringe. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
  • Sartre, Jean Paul (2003). Being and Nothingness. London; New York: Routledge.
  • Sharma, Devilka, Tygstrup, Frederik (2015). Structure of feeling: Affectivity and the Study of Culture. De Gruyter.
  • Van Dijk, Wilco, Ouwerkerk, Jaap (2014). Schadenfreude: Understanding pleasure at the Misfortune of others. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Vermeulen, Timotheus, Van den Akker, Robin (2010). Notes on metamodernism. Journal of Aesthetics & Culture 2 (1): 2-14. E-version
  • Virk, Tomo (2000). Strah pred naivnostjo. Ljubljana: LUD Literatura. Catalogue


Seminar paper / essay 50 %
Oral exam 50 %

Lecturer's references

Assist. Prof. Primož Mlačnik, PhD, received his doctorate at the Faculty of Social Sciences (FDV) of the University of Ljubljana (UL), where in 2020, he defended his doctoral dissertation entitled The Relation between Melancholy and Modernity in the Case of Franz Kafka's Literature. He is a researcher at the Centre for the Humanities, Faculty of Humanities (FH), University of Nova Gorica (UNG), within the TILDA project (Transformations of Intimacy in the Literary Discourse of Slovene ''Moderna'' 2021-2024), funded by the Research Agency for Scientific Research and Innovation of the Republic of Slovenia (ARIS). At the FDV UL, he has been previously involved in numerous courses in Cultural Studies and Literature. Currently, at the Faculty of Arts (FF) of UL, he lectures on the course Cultural Policies and the Book in the European Union and Slovenia, while at the FH UNG, he lectures on various courses in the field of literary studies and cultural studies. His research interests mainly include cultural studies of detective fiction and critical-theoretical case studies of Slovenian detective novels. He also works as a writer.

Selection of articles:

  1. MLAČNIK, Primož. From minor literature to neoliberal noir : the detective novels of Sergej Verč. Caietele Echinox. 2022, vol. 43, str. 77-92.
  2. MLAČNIK, Primož. Virus : neoliberalni detektiv v imuni slovenski družbi. Filozofski vestnik. [Tiskana izd.]. 2022, letn. 43, št. 1, str. 181-200, 217-218.
  3. MLAČNIK, Primož. Udomačeni Slovenci v detektivskih romanih Avgusta Demšarja. Jezik in slovstvo. [Tiskana izd.]. 2022, letn. 67, št. 3, str. 5-15.
  4. MLAČNIK, Primož. Dekonstrukcijskost manjšinskih detektivskih romanov Sergeja Verča. Studia Historica Slovenica : časopis za humanistične in družboslovne študije. [Tiskana izd.]. 2022, letn. 22, št. 3, str. 859-886, ilustr.
  5. MLAČNIK, Primož, STANKOVIĆ, Peter. The disappearance of political jokes in post-socialist Slovenia. Communist and post-communist studies. Sep. 2020, vol. 53, no. 3, str. 172-188.
  6. MLAČNIK, Primož. Minor literature in the case of Brina Svit = Literatura mniejsza na przykładzie Briny Svit. Przekłady Literatur Słowiańskich. 2020, tom 10, cz. 1, str. 207-223. Prace Naukowe Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach.
  7. MLAČNIK, Primož. Kafka ʺShanghai-Edʺ : Orientalist China in Kafkaʹs fiction and Kafkaesque phenomena in China. European journal of interdisciplinary studies. May-Aug. 2019, vol. 5, iss. 2, str. 36-44.
  8. MLAČNIK, Primož. Kulturistike - kulturološka branja beletristike. Slavia Centralis. [Tiskana izd.]. 2019, letn. 12, št. 2, str. 46-57.
  9. MLAČNIK, Primož. The deconstruction of Freud's theory of melancholy. Družboslovne razprave. [Tiskana izd.]. sep. 2018, letn. 34, št. 88, str. 113-131.
  10. MLAČNIK, Primož. The influence of Franz Kafka's literature on aspects of critical cultural theory. Slavia Centralis. [Tiskana izd.]. 2021, letn. 14, št. 1, str. 249-259.

Assist. Prof. Ivana Zajc, PhD graduated in 2013 and received her master's degree in 2016 from the Department of Slovene Studies and the Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana. In the same year, she enrolled in doctoral studies at the same faculty and in 2021 she earned her doctorate in the field of literary studies. During her doctoral studies, she was awarded the scholarship of the University Foundation of Lenarčič Milan and attended the University of Leipzig’s European Summer University in Digital Humanities. She has presented her findings in various scientific journals and symposia in Slovenia and abroad. She has been employed at the Research Center for the Humanities of the University of Nova Gorica since 2021. Prior to that, she worked as a journalist at RTV Slovenia in radio and online media, and completed a one-year speech training program at the Center for Speech Culture.


  1. ZAJC, Ivana. Scoring of essays in L1 in the secondary school-leaving exam. Pedagoška obzorja : časopis za didaktiko in metodiko. 2023, 38/1, 19-31, tabele.
  2. ZAJC, Ivana. Slovene teachers' opinions on teaching literature in grammar schools. Slovene studies : journal of the Society for Slovene Studies. 2022, 44/1, 25-42.
  3. Zajc, I. (2016). Sodobne spremembe didaskalij: Primer besedil Simone Semenič. Jezik in slovstvo 61/3–4. 152–162.
  4. Zajc, I. (2017). Konvencija didaskalij: Zgodovinske oblike, tipologije, opredelitve in sodobne subverzije. Jezik in slovstvo 62/1. 69–78.
  5. Zajc, I. (2017). Implicitni avtor: Raba v slovenski literarni vedi, nove opredelitve in problematična mesta. Slavistična revija 65/1. 127–139.
  6. Zajc, I. (2019). Literarna zmožnost kultiviranega bralca in Evropski literarni okvir. Jezik in slovstvo. 64/3–4. 57–67, 156.
  7. Zajc, I. (2019). Elementi monodrame in avtobiografskosti v besedilih Simone Semenič. Amfiteater: revija za teorijo scenskih umetnosti 7/2. 80–98.
  8. Zajc, I. (2021). Poezija v modelih esejske naloge na maturi iz materinščine. Pavlič, Darja (ur.): Slovenska poezija. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete, 2021. 347–352. (Obdobja 40).
  9. Zajc, I. (2021). Subjektivnost, pripovednost, kršenje pravil: nove didaskalije za novo dramatiko. Pogorevc, Petra (ur.) in Toporišič, Tomaž (ur.): Drama, tekst, pisava 2. Ljubljana: Mestno gledališče ljubljansko. 183–201.
  10. ZAJC, Ivana, SAKSIDA, Igor (recenzent), ŽBOGAR, Alenka (recenzent). Kaj je literarna zmožnost in kako jo preverjamo z maturitetnim esejem. V Novi Gorici: Založba Univerze, 2023. 269 str.