Search This Blog

Sunday, 26 October 2008

a methodology for understanding our emotional history?

there have been many good books talking about emotions throughout history - my favourites being Theodore Zeldin's wonderful 'an intimate history of humanity' and Stuart Walton's 'humanity: an emotional history'.

however there has been, (though i would be delighted to be proved wrong), no comprehensive guide to our emotions across time and continent. harbouring ambitions to such a grand task, it's something i think of this blog as a first tentative step towards.

of course a blog is at it's best when it becomes a conversation and not a monologue and all contributions are welcome. with that in mind, anyone who can answer such questions as below with examples gleaned from wherever would be lovely...

how did an emotion express itself in a time and place?

was there a social structure to cope specifically with the emotion?

was it expressed on a social or more personal level?

what sources were there for this expression?

for that matter, am i even asking the right questions?! what else should i be asking?


sonia soans said...

Perhaps we havent documented emotions for the simple reason - we didnt feel the need to. Emotions as we now know them may not be the same as before. Our understanding of normality and abnormality can help us understand emotions. normal and abnormal emotions would be distinct....... or maybe not

But that is the psychologist in me. Maybe we expressed our emotions differently , perhaps through literature, or in actions and not verbally as we now do.

scot in exile said...

i think that's very true and part of the interest in their history is in how they've changed. one aspect is how they had been previously described in terms which suggested them as external forces working upon the individual, whereas after the romantics they were described more more as internal feelings.

plus of course different cultures and subcultures can express the same emotion in staggeringly different ways...