All lectures begin at 13:00 in room 303 Paterson Hall, Carleton University. Reception to follow.
September 23, 2011
KEITH OATLEY, “Emotions in literary history, and the history of emotions.”
Although many written historical records are of disputes (including wars), accessions to power, laws, commercial transactions, and so on, to understand the history of emotions, other kinds of writings become relevant: the writings of fiction. It would be an exaggeration to say that fiction is all about the emotions, but not much of an exaggeration. Literary writings from, say, The epic of Gilgamesh to J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace afford glimpses of the emotional life of individuals and societies in history. Some emotional themes, for instance of friendship and of interpersonal and intergroup antagonisms, persist. With other themes, such as the nature of love, there seem to have been changes. Also changed over time are concern for, and empathy with, others. I discuss the nature and stability of such themes in relation to questions of emotions’ universality and cultural construction, and the issue of how far emotions have been significant in the history of societies.
September 30, 2011
FRANK BIESS, “German Angst? Fear and Democracy in Postwar Germany.”
The lecture addresses an apparent paradox: while West Germans experienced increasing economic prosperity and political stabilization in the postwar period, they also went through recurring cycles of intense fear and anxiety. This proclivity to fear and anxiety gave rise to the notion of a distinct German angst, which was not just projected onto Germans from the outside but was also part of postwar Germans’ own self-observation. Drawing on a newly conceptualized history of emotions, the lecture traces the shifting objects of fear and anxiety after 1945, and it examines the changing cultural norms for expressing emotions in the postwar period. It also seeks to answer the question: what was the relationship between fear and democratization in postwar Germany?
October 14, 2011
SARITA SRIVASTAVA, “Tears, Fears and Careers: Emotional Encounters about Race.”
What do emotion and race have to do with one another? A number of historical analyses have described both the psychic investments in racial hierarchies and the psychic effects of racial oppression (Roediger 1991, Stoler 1995, McClintock 1995, Said 1979, Fanon 1967). These deep emotional undercurrents of racial conflict are reflected in the anger, fear and nostalgia that accompany contemporary discussions of racism, anti-racism and multiculturalism, particularly in organizational settings. An analysis of feminist debates over the last three decades shows that normative practices of emotional disclosure and expression often deflect, personalize and derail attempts at anti-racist organizational change.
October 21, 2011
BARBARA ROSENWEIN, “Emotions: Embodied or Incorporeal?”
Alain de Lille long ago proclaimed that gestures and facial expressions were windows onto a person’s “internal disposition,” while today Paul Ekman claims that certain facial expressions represent “basic emotions.” However, as this paper argues, in fact associations between the body and emotion are (and remain) highly variable. The paper treats emotions within the context of “emotional communities”– social groups within which people are animated by common or similar interests, values, and emotional styles. Emotional communities have different ways of incorporating (or not) the body in emotional expression. This point is exemplified by three medieval examples. The paper ends by suggesting that such variations in embodiment help challenge the view of “universal” emotions.
October 28, 2011
WILLIAM IAN MILLER, “I can’t get no satisfaction: revenge and some small portion of its sentiments.”
November 11, 2011
BRUCE CURTIS, “‘Death, Ham, Mustard, and the Blues” : Emotion as Performance”
Peter C. Muir’s recent account of the emergence and interaction of popular and folk blues in turn-of-the-twentieth century America relates their form, content and function to ‘neurasthenia’, the commonly discussed malady of the age. He treats the music as a homeopathic and an allopathic remedy for the complaint. He draws intriguing parallels with the music of such composers as John Dowland in an earlier ‘age of melancholy.’ Perhaps Muir’s analysis of music offers a way to give substance to Raymond Williams’ intriguing but elusive concept, ‘structure of feeling,’ which was intended as a means of coming to grips with the emotional resonances provoked by phases of capitalist cultural transformation. In this exploratory paper, I seek to juxtapose such accounts of cultural expression and structured emotional life to more ‘figurational’ and ‘game-theoretic’ analyses of the kind proposed by Norbert Elias and Pierre Bourdieu. The paper draws some of its empirical materials from the archive of recorded pre-1940 blues. Alan Lomax’s 1938 Library of Congress recordings of Jelly Roll Morton provide the first half of my title.
November 18, 2011
LAURA BRANDON, “Cause and Affect: War Art and Emotion.”
In 2006, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) launched a television series called The Power of Art. Historian and Art Historian Simon Schama selected eight famous artists and in the context of their lives and times explored the creation of several significant compositions, arguing that the artists’ works not only changed the course of art history but, in some cases, profoundly altered public understanding of events in their own time and after. As writer Frances Spalding notes of the Picasso chapter in her October 2006 Independent review of the accompanying book, “When in February 2003 the United Nations Security Council decided to hold a press conference about the likelihood of armed intervention in Iraq, someone noticed that hanging in the chosen location was a tapestry reproduction of Guernica, with its burning houses, screaming women and dead babies. It was hurriedly covered over with a sky-blue UN drape. Schama is not alone is seeing this as the ultimate backhanded compliment to the power of art.” In considering emotional theories I explore this so-called power of art in a Canadian context. I look into the circumstances that led artist Gertrude Kearns to paint What They Gave, a 2006 Afghanistan war composition, and assess its impact. I ask whether the artist’s emotional response to the tragedy she witnessed is conveyed in paint and, moreover, question whether viewers respond directly to the work or if other information sources play a greater role in determining their emotional reactions.