Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Emotions in American History

Emotions in American History: An International Assessment

Edited by Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hecht
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 302
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Emotions in American History
    Book Description:

    The study of emotions has attracted anew the interest of scholars in various disciplines, igniting a lively public debate on the constructive and destructive power of emotions in society as well as within each of us. Most of the contributors to this volume do not hail from the United States but look at the nation from abroad. They explore the role of emotions in history and ask how that exploration changes what we know about national and international history, and in turn how that affects the methodological study of history. In particular they focus on emotions in American history between the 18th century and the present: in war, in social and political discourse, as well as in art and the media. In addition to case studies, the volume includes a review of their fields by senior scholars, who offer new insights regarding future research projects.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-819-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-viii)
    Jessica Gienow-Hecht
  5. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Introduction Emotions in American History: The View from Europe
    (pp. 1-12)
    Jessica C. E. Gienow-Hecht

    Emotions are hot, in more than one way. Scholars of various branches have developed a passion for the study of emotions, and there is also a vibrant public debate on the constructive and destructive power of emotions in society as well as within each of us. In psychology, psychohistory, sociology, cognitive research, and the humanities, scholars have observed that modern research has focused too much on scientific and behaviorist models while there is little appreciation for culturally motivated reflection. The popular debate around emotional intelligence and emotional competence has challenged our belief in rationality and control as the pillars of...

  7. Approaches to the Study of Human Emotions

    • Chapter 1 Emotions History in the United States: Goals, Methods, and Promise
      (pp. 15-27)
      Peter N. Stearns

      Emotions history is a relatively new field, filled with promise but also generating a variety of questions. These questions include: how can emotions history be done, and what’s the point of doing it? This essay addresses these issues, while acknowledging the many gaps to be filled and the many unforeseen directions that the field may take in future. Enough research is being done now on emotions history to make it clear that scholars will interpret the category in various ways. I wish mainly to suggest some criteria to consider amid the variety.

      I will argue that there are important signs...

    • Chapter 2 Emotions at Work: Potential and Perspectives of the History of Everyday Life
      (pp. 28-48)
      Alf Lüdtke

      Historians of everyday life reconstruct practices by which people “make” their living. At issue are the ways individuals and groups deal with the world. Concretely, how do people cope with both the strain of demands and the promise of attractions they sense or encounter in their specific settings? Respective studies trace people’s perceptions and sensations, actions and expressions, and their manifold material and symbolical registers.

      Still, some researchers of the everyday confine themselves to the study of the (seeming) routines of daily life. The everyday, however, reverberates not only with repetition, oftentimes labeled “structure” or “institution.” Instead, at the center...

  8. Emotions and War

    • Chapter 3 The Corruption of Civic Virtue by Emotion: Anti-Imperialist Fears in the Debate on the Philippine-American War (1899–1902)
      (pp. 51-65)
      Fabian Hilfrich

      The scholarly analysis of the role of emotions in history has thus far mainly focused on the historyofemotions, tracing the development and the changes of a certain emotion over time.¹ Much like recent psychosociological literature on the subject, these studies have shown that emotions are time- and culture-bound, that they are neither exclusively individual nor exclusively social, neither only cultural nor only natural. They depend on a “memory” of situation and circumstance, and their expression and manifestation can also be “socially constructed.”²

      In diplomatic history, however, emotions have thus far hardly figured as a matter of systematic scholarly...

    • Chapter 4 The Mobilization of Emotions: Propaganda and Social Violence on the American Home Front during World War I
      (pp. 66-91)
      Jörg Nagler

      War and emotions form an inherent symbiosis. Though the Prussian military analyst Carl von Clausewitz claimed in his famous quotation that war is merely a “continuation of policy … by other means,” the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars changed the course of how wars were conducted. The phenomenon oflevée en masseor people’s war became the principle of warfare, and with it came a new way of viewing war that had repercussions on the emotional dimension of war. Whereas earlier conflicts had almost been a rational undertaking, emotions now partly replaced reason in war making. Those who argued...

    • Chapter 5 Hanoi Jane, Vietnam Memory, and Emotions
      (pp. 92-112)
      Andreas Etges

      The poem “Plain Jane” by Barbara Pope, the wife of a Vietnam veteran, is one of several poems, songs, and stories about Jane Fonda’s controversial visit to North Vietnam in 1972.¹ Veterans’ stands on the Mall in Washington still sell stickers like these: “Jane: Call Home 1-800-Hanoi” and “I’m not Fond’a Hanoi Jane.” Another sticker reads: “I’ll forgive her when the Jews forgive Hitler.” An internet search produces many thousand hits for “Hanoi Jane,” most of them unforgiving for Fonda’s alleged treason. The actress is pictured on these websites in prison or in a cage, as a snake, or as...

  9. Emotions, Art, and the Media

    • Chapter 6 “Stop Them Damned Pictures”: Political Cartoons, the Study of Emotions, and the Construction of the Anglo-American Relationship
      (pp. 115-138)
      Stefanie Schneider

      “Stop them damned pictures; I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents can’t read. But, damn it, they can see pictures!” raged Tammany Hall Boss William Tweed, facing a veritable cartoon campaign by Thomas Nast against his corrupt practices in the courthouse of New York City in the 1870s.¹ His angry exclamation illustrates one of the most famous reactions to political cartoons by the beholder in general, and by those attacked in pictorial satire in particular. It not only shows how “emotional” a person reacted to witty, fitting cartoons but also demonstrates his fear of...

    • Chapter 7 Emotions of Comparisons: Perceptions of European Anti-Americanism in US Magazines of the 1920s
      (pp. 139-157)
      Adelheid von Saldern

      Collier’sMagazine opened its edition of 19 September 1926 with an article entitled “Why They Hate Us.” The headline’s juxtaposition between “they” and “us” describes a classic subject of inquiry for historians, philosophers, psychologists, and other social scientists as well. It also highlights the importance of perceptions in transatlantic relations and reminds us of the yet insufficiently explored power of emotions in Euro-American relations.

      Research on emotions provides historians with unique insights into the foundations of society and culture. It is a key to understanding social norms and values and enables a better grasp of society’s cohesive forces.¹ According to...

    • Chapter 8 Emotions and Nineteenth-Century American Art
      (pp. 158-178)
      Bettina Friedl

      The visual arts traditionally seem to have an intense and complex association with emotions. In fact, much of what we perceive and treasure in a majority of art works appears to be directly connected either with the expression of emotions in or through the work of art itself, or with a specific emotional response to the art work by viewers.¹ In his seminal workArt and Its Objects,Richard Wollheim explains that “originally, it was claimed that works of art were expressive of a certain state if and only if they had been produced in, and were capable of arousing...

  10. Emotions and Society

    • Chapter 9 A Horrifying Experience? Public Executions and the Emotional Spectator in the New Republic
      (pp. 181-200)
      Jürgen Martschukat

      “When the day of Execution comes, then, Multitudes, Multitudes flock together,” observed Reverend Eliphalet Adams in 1738.¹ Thousands of people often gathered around the scaffold when capital punishment was executed in the small communities of colonial America. The crowd consisted of women and men, of boys and girls, and many had traveled a long way, by foot or carriage, to see one of their fellow men die. Before a hanging, at least in New England and the mid-Atlantic Colonies, the spectators listened to an execution sermon. Historians of punishment and social control glean from these sermons the conception of the...

    • Chapter 10 Emotions, American Society, and Discourses on Sexuality
      (pp. 201-224)
      Michael Hochgeschwender

      These were the opening lines of one of the most influential articles of the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Published in 1970, Anne Koedt’s “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm” triggered a long and passionate debate¹ about one of the strongest emotions—orgasm, especially female orgasm,² a debate that encapsulated the broader social, cultural, and economic matrix of female sexuality. Henceforth, I will focus on two different aspects of this debate. On the one hand, I will show how Koedt’s arguments immediately became an object of ongoing and heated discussions among feminists and subsequently a...

    • Chapter 11 Does Every Vote Count in America? Emotions, Elections, and the Quest for Black Political Empowerment
      (pp. 225-250)
      Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson

      The history of emotions provides important keys to understanding human behavior and can be of great assistance in explaining wider political, social, and economic trends in American history.¹ This applies in particular to the history of African Americans, as racial conflicts in general and the black struggle for freedom and equality in particular repeatedly stirred public emotions in the United States to a degree hardly ever reached by other domestic issues. Thus, interracial relations have always been identified as an extremely emotionally charged aspect of American history, and in view of the new approaches to historical research proposed by the...

  11. The View from the Other Side:: Emotions and Psychology

    • Chapter 12 The Fortunes of Emotion in the Science of Psychology and in the History of Emotions
      (pp. 253-270)
      Horst U. K. Gundlach

      Psychology at present has no single and coherent answer to the general question, “What are emotions?” Psychologists offer many different answers, and some of these answers contradict one another. This is, of course, an unsatisfactory state of affairs, and is a sign that none of the answers so far given is unrestrictedly acceptable, that the question concerns a particularly complicated matter, and that the conceptual and research procedures psychology has at its disposal are not yet adequate.

      Many answers psychologists offer seem to be dependent on the means and methods of research available in their times. A look at the...

  12. Index
    (pp. 271-290)