Doing Emotions History

Doing Emotions History

SUSAN J. MATT
PETER N. STEARNS
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt3fh5m1
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  • Book Info
    Doing Emotions History
    Book Description:

    How do emotions change over time? When is hate honorable? What happens when love is translated into different languages? Such questions are now being addressed by historians who trace how emotions have been expressed and understood in different cultures throughout history. Doing Emotions History explores the history of feelings such as love, joy, grief, nostalgia as well as a wide range of others, bringing together the latest and most innovative scholarship on the history of the emotions. Spanning the globe from Asia and Europe to North America, the book provides a crucial overview of this emerging discipline. An international group of scholars reviews the field's current status and variations, addresses many of its central debates, provides models and methods, and proposes an array of possibilities for future research. Emphasizing the field's intersections with anthropology, psychology, sociology, neuroscience, data-mining, and popular culture, this groundbreaking volume demonstrates the affecting potential of doing emotions history.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09532-0
    Subjects: Anthropology, History, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)
    SUSAN J. MATT and PETER N. STEARNS

    Why did early modern Europeans believe the world to be a vale of tears? In contrast, how and when did Americans come to be so cheerful? Why did homicidal husbands in the eighteenth century kill their wives out of anger, while husbands in the nineteenth were more likely to claim they murdered out of jealousy? How did Americans learn to manage their anger to increase productivity and profits?¹ These questions, and others like them, are topics that historians of the emotions have been raising for the last several decades. While concerned with the most personal of subjects—human feelings—their...

  4. PART I: BASIC ISSUES:: ASSESSING CHANGE
    • CHAPTER 1 MODERN PATTERNS IN EMOTIONS HISTORY
      (pp. 17-40)
      PETER N. STEARNS

      After thirty to forty years of serious, informative work on emotions history, scholars have not clearly answered what would seem a vital and timely question: do emotions and emotional standards change when a society moves toward modernity? This essay seeks to explore the current status of the issue, to indicate promising lines for renewed attention, and to urge greater priority for analysis and discussion.

      Current indecision (at best) or neglect results from three factors. First, modernity itself is a contested notion. Most would agree that industrial, urban societies differ from agricultural ones, but how widely this spills over onto areas...

    • CHAPTER 2 RECOVERING THE INVISIBLE: METHODS FOR THE HISTORICAL STUDY OF THE EMOTIONS
      (pp. 41-54)
      SUSAN J. MATT

      From the very beginning, those who have studied the history of the emotions have realized the difficulties they faced. In 1941, Lucien Febvre, the first scholar to call for such investigations, wrote that the undertaking would be fraught with challenges. He observed, “Any attempt to reconstitute the emotional life of a given period is a task that is at one and the same time extremely attractive and frightfully difficult.”¹ Febvre suggested that emotions of other eras and societies were so very different from those of the present day that their recovery required the scholar to abandon preconceived ideas about the...

  5. PART II: REGIONAL ANALYSIS
    • CHAPTER 3 THE SKEIN OF CHINESE EMOTIONS HISTORY
      (pp. 57-73)
      NORMAN KUTCHER

      It would be impossible to begin a chapter on the history of emotions in China without at least making glancing reference to the stereotype of “the emotion-less Chinese.” This shibboleth is of uncomfortably long lineage. It began, most likely, with the coming of nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries to China, men and women who, shocked at the seeming impassivity of the Chinese they encountered, attributed their lack of affect to a kind of racial impermeability to pain and suffering. For these missionaries, it was not much of a leap to argue that once Chinese embraced Christ, among the most precious gifts they...

    • CHAPTER 4 EMOTIONS HISTORY IN EASTERN EUROPE
      (pp. 74-100)
      MARK D. STEINBERG

      It would be unwise, even harmful, to approach a regional history of emotions looking for essential patterns of national or ethnic character. To be sure, many people have claimed defining emotional traits for their own culture. In the early 1900s, for example, it was common for Russians to speak of a “Russian soul” naturally inclined toward “brooding and melancholy.”¹ More deleterious have been claims about other cultures: Serbs are belligerent, Romanians are intensely emotional, “Gypsies” are impassioned but irresponsible, Germans desire order, Jews are avaricious. National and ethnic cultural stereotypes have histories and are worth studying as revealing constructions and...

  6. PART III: PROBING SPECIFIC EMOTIONS
    • CHAPTER 5 FINDING JOY IN THE HISTORY OF EMOTIONS
      (pp. 103-119)
      DARRIN M. McMAHON

      Are historians of emotions a negative lot? Do they give greater weight to angst and animosity, sadness and fear than they do to the positive human emotions? Indeed, might the field of the history of emotions as a whole suffer from something of a “negative bias,” a tendency to accord greater prominence to the role played by negative emotions in constituting the human past? Consider the titles of a recent, semester-long speakers’ series at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of the History of Emotions in Berlin:¹ “Sorrow carved in stone: Expressions of grief and suffering in Ottoman Muslim...

    • CHAPTER 6 ADVERTISING FOR LOVE: MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENTS AND PUBLIC COURTSHIP
      (pp. 120-140)
      PAMELA EPSTEIN

      In June 1864, a man signing himself “Bertram” printed a remarkable matrimonial advertisement. At forty-three lines long and three hundred and seventy-two words (but only three sentences), it took up nearly a quarter of a column in theNew York Times. Describing himself as a “young gentleman in all respects favorably situated in life,” with all the qualities a privileged man should have: “prepossessing appearance and manners . . . no ordinary capabilities and attainments, independent in thought and action, enlarged, liberal and charitable in views,” he nevertheless lamented that he was “still wanting the essential element of happiness,” a...

  7. PART IV: EMOTIONS IN SOCIETY
    • CHAPTER 7 RELIGION AND EMOTIONS
      (pp. 143-162)
      JOHN CORRIGAN

      The practice of emotions history in the field of religious studies has developed apace with the flowering of scholarly interest in everyday practice, embodiment, locality, and the constructed self over the past several decades. Most previous religious history from the earlier twentieth century,¹ whether focused on western monotheisms or on Asian or indigenous religions, was inclined to illustrate its narratives about feeling with ideas collected from theological discourses, or, at the very least, with language sampled from Christian glossaries of belief and worship.² For much religious history, confessional perspectives supplied the basis for interpretation—including the preoccupation with meaning itself...

    • CHAPTER 8 EMOTION AND POLITICAL CHANGE
      (pp. 163-183)
      NICOLE EUSTACE

      From Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, to Jürgen Habermas, social theorists have long argued that political transformations rest on a foundation of reasoned public critiques. Habermas contended that widespread public debate about—and criticism of—official government policies first developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through a process of rational disputation conducted via the press. For Habermas, emotion had no part to play in this idealized political process. Instead, he applauded “the critical judgment of the public making use of its reason.” From his contemporary eighteenth-century vantage point, Bolingbroke too saw little efficacy in emotion. He famously urged readers...

    • CHAPTER 9 MEDIA, MESSAGES, AND EMOTIONS
      (pp. 184-204)
      BRENTON J. MALIN

      Communication media inevitably raise questions about emotion. In Plato’sPhaedrus, Socrates worries about the emotional effects of writing—the new medium of his time. Talking with Phaedrus, a young man who brings a written speech to him, Socrates expresses concern for the “frenzied enthusiasm” he believes it is likely to produce in those who read it. Among the faults that Socrates finds with writing is that it “doesn’t know how to address the right people, and not to address the wrong.”¹ Because a written script, unlike a live speech, does not require a person to deliver it, it cannot make...

  8. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 205-208)
    SUSAN J. MATT and PETER N. STEARNS

    The momentum for research in the history of emotions is truly impressive, after the somewhat tentative launch of the field several decades back. Major centers in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany as well as periodic conferences in many other countries demonstrate the growing institutional interest in emotions history. Individual scholars and writers contribute additional vigor, under the emotions history label or more indirectly. A recent study of the modern history of sincerity, calling attention to the important emotional alignments involved, is an intriguing case in point.¹ Emotions history is gaining recognition as an innovative way to improve understanding of...

  9. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 209-210)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 211-217)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 218-218)