A Cultural History of the Emotions

6 Volumes

      Emotions are everywhere in the ancient world: in everyday transactions, in interpersonal relationships, in religion and politics, in the objects that people use in their daily lives, and in the buildings and spaces they live in. Classical literature is rich in representations of emotion and the actions that emotions motivate, while Classical rhetoric and literary theory concentrate above all on the emotional effects that texts and performances have on readers and audiences. Greek and Roman historians weave complex narratives in which the emotions of author, narrator, historical characters, and audiences are intricately intertwined. The visual arts, music, and dance are theorized in terms of their emotional properties and effects. The West’s earliest philosophical and scientific approaches to emotion in ancient Greece and Rome engage what are still fundamental concerns. This volume surveys this vast field to demonstrate how emotion history is an indispensable aspect of the cultural history of the Greek and Roman worlds.

      A Cultural History of the Emotions in the Medieval Age

      Volume 2


      Juanita Feros Ruys, Clare Monagle

      The period covered by this volume, 350- 1300, was one of enormous change in the way emotions were understood, expressed, and valued as components of social life. At the opening of this period, the Roman Empire still existed as an administrative and cultural force across Europe, while Christianity had survived its first rocky centuries to become the official religion of the Empire. This meant that the approach to emotions was heavily influenced both by ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophy, and by the ascetic, and especially eremitic, character of early Christianity. The authors of the essays included in this volume trace the way understandings of emotions evolved over the next millennium into the high Middle Ages. This was the age of the flowering of affective piety and mysticism, when emotions, instead of being seen as unwanted distractions to be extirpated, were viewed instead as a pathway to experiencing and sharing in the ineffability of God.

      The period 1300-1600 was one of intense and far-reaching emotional realignments in European culture. New desires and developments in politics, religion, philosophy, the arts, and literature fundamentally changed emotional attitudes to history, creating the sense of a rupture from the immediate past. In this volatile context, cultural products of all kinds offered competing objects of love, hate, hope and fear. Art, music, dance, and song provided new models of family affection, interpersonal intimacy, the relationship with God, and gender and national identities. The public and private spaces of courts, cities and houses shaped the practices and rituals in which emotional lives were expressed and understood. Scientific and medical discoveries changed emotional relations to the cosmos, the natural world, and the body. Both continuing traditions and new sources of cultural authority made emotions central to the concept of human nature, and involved them in every aspect of existence.

      A Cultural History of the Emotions in the Baroque and Enlightenment Age

      Volume 4


      Claire Walker, Katie Barclay, David Lemmings

      During the period of the Baroque and Enlightenment the word “emotion”, denoting passions and feelings, came into usage, albeit in an irregular fashion. “Emotion” ultimately emerged as a term in its own right, and evolved in English from meaning physical agitation to describe mental feeling. However, the older terminology of “passions” and “affections” continued as the dominant discourse structuring thinking about feeling and its wider religious, political, social, economic, and moral imperatives. The emotional cultures described in these essays enable comparative discussion about the history of emotions, and particularly the causes and consequences of emotional change in the larger cultural contexts of the Baroque and Enlightenment. Emotions research has enabled a rethinking of dominant narratives of the period—of histories of revolution, state-building, the rise of the public sphere, religious and scientific transformation, and more. As a new and dynamic field, the essays here provide a comprehensive introduction to a much bigger history of emotions.

      Between 1780 and 1920, modern conceptions of emotion—conceptions still very much present in the 21st century—first took shape. This book traces that history, charting the changing meaning and experience of feelings in an era shaped by political and market revolutions, romanticism, empiricism, and the rise of psychology and psychoanalysis. During this period, the word “emotion” itself gained currency, gradually supplanting older vocabularies and visions of feeling. Terms to describe feelings changed; so too did conceptions of emotions’ proper role in politics, economics, and culture. Political upheavals turned a spotlight on the role of feeling in public life; in domestic life, sentimental bonds gained new importance, as families were transformed from productive units to emotional ones. From the halls of parliaments to the familial hearth, from the art museum to the theatre, from the pulpit to the concert hall, this volume examines the debates over feelings which raged across the 19th century.

      The 20th century, with revolutionary and rapid developments in travel, communications and computerised technologies, offered new and seemingly limitless horizons which accompanied and amplified distinctive experiences of emotions. The birth of psychology and psychiatry revealed the importance of emotional life and that individuals could have control over their behaviour. Traditional religion was challenged and alternative forms of spiritualism emerged. Creative and performing arts continued to shape understandings and experiences of emotions, from realism to detachment, holistic to fragmented notions of self and society. The role of emotions in family life focused on how to deal with modern day freedom and anxiety. In the public sphere, people used emotion to oppress as well as liberate. Countering threats to national security, as well as personal and cultural identity, politically motivated activities emerged embracing peace, humanitarian, and environmental causes. This volume surveys the means by which the modern experience shaped how, why, and where emotions were expressed, monitored, and controlled.