Skip to main content Skip to navigation

New research on the emotions

An emergent field

The study of the emotions is an emergent interdisciplinary field, which means that scholars from different disciplines (mainly literature, history, philosophy and cultural geography) are interested in the subject, and come together to work out how to discuss it. This module is specifically focused on the 'affective turn' as a way to assess our understanding of emotion through poetry.

History of Emotions blog

One place to start is the History of Emotions blog, based at Queen Mary. It's constantly updated with new work on the emotions and has a very user-friendly and accessible style.

Introductory articles

  1. 2015: Emma Mason, 'Emotion, feeling, affect' (PDF Document) a draft of a chapter I've written for a forthcoming book on nineteenth-century poetry
  2. 2011: Adam Curtis, 'Learning to Hug', a history of hugging on British television.
  3. 2011: Thomas Dixon, 'History in British Tears: The Anatomy of Modern Emotions' (includes a bibliography of some of the most important works in the field).
  4. 2011: Susan J. Matt, a survey of the field in Emotion Review.
  5. 2010: a series of interviews with William Reddy, Barbara Rosenwein, and Peter Stearns by Jan Plamper in History and Theory.
  6. 2009: William Reddy, 'Historical Research on the Self and Emotions', Emotion Review.
  7. 2008: Emma Mason and Isobel Armstrong, special issue on 'Languages of Emotion' in Textual Practice.
  8. 2002: Barbara Rosenwein, 'Worrying About Emotions in History', in the American Historical Review.

Other courses

The history of emotions is also taught at other institutions, and is beginning to establish itself as a major subject to study. See:

  1. ‘Themes and Sources’ on the History of Emotions (University of Cambridge)
  2. ‘Comparative Histories’ module on emotions (University of York)
  3. 'Thinking Historically about Feeling' (Goldsmiths)
  4. 'Stoicism and Sensibility: Placing the Emotions in Modern British History' (Queen Mary)
  5. 'Emotion' (University of Warwick, Department of Psychology)

A deepening ensues - like the feeling of watching

the chiaroscuro being added to a charcoal portrait of yourself

after you've finished posing. You can do nothing now but witness

the accretion of shades - the plush layering - a revelation by smudging.

- Patrick Mackie, 'An Emotion Constitutes a Magical Transformation of the World'