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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Towards a new history of Western emotions

A quick flyer for an interesting evening which I am deeply hoping to get to, work permitting.

5 October 2009. 6-8pm Arts Lecture Theatre. Queen Mary, Mile End Campus.

Professor Barbara Rosenwein
‘Towards a New History of Western Emotions’

With a response by
Professor Miri Rubin

Professor Rosenwein’s lecture – ‘Towards a New History of Western Emotions’ – takes up the question of why we need a new history of Western emotions, that is, a new general narrative. Much of the lecture will be concerned with surveying the general narratives that currently exist. The lecture will then sketch what a new narrative history might look like.

Miri Rubin is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. Her two most recent books are Emotion and Devotion: The Meaning of Mary in Medieval Religious Cultures (2009) and Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary (2009).

The lecture, response, and discussion will be followed by a wine reception.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

a kiss and a cuddle...

I came across this, by George Weber, recently about the Andamanese in the 1850's. They are a tribal society in the south eastern Indian Ocean:
"The Andamanese did not and still do not lightly show their social emotions. There were no special words for ordinary greetings like the English "hello" or "how-do-you-do." When two Andamanese met who had not seen each other for a while, they first stared wordlessly at each other for minutes. So long could this initial silent staring last that some outside observers who saw the beginning of the ceremony but not its continuation came away with the impression that the Andamanese had no speech."

Can one imagine? i know some socially awkward people but it runs gloriously counter to our sense of constant chatter.

"The deadlock was broken when the younger of the two made a casual remark. This opened the doors to an excited exchange of news and gossip. If the two were related, the older would sit down and the younger sit on his lap, then the two would cuddle and huddle while weeping profusely. If they had not seen each other for a long time, the weeping could go on for hours. In the eyes of outside observers, the embracing and caressing could seem amorous but in fact the ceremony had no erotic significance whatsoever. Kisses were not part of the repertoire of caresses; only children received kisses as a sign of affection."

From the gentle tactility of men to the lack of erotic kissing, how different!

"Greater Andamanese greeting ceremonies were loudly demonstrative, their weeping often turning into howls that could be heard, as was intended, far and wide. The Onge were less exuberant and were satisfied with the of a few quiet tears and with caressing each other. If there were many people, greeting returning hunters that had been absent longer than expected or meeting unusual visitors, etiquette required that the large mass of people should not cry until several hours after the arrival. When the howling started, it could go on all night. When more than a few people met, the initial staring was dispensed with. "

Sunday, 6 September 2009

assynt again

Assynt is a place that looms large in my imagination for a range of reasons. Once again Colin Prior does the place justice with a wonderful photograph.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Emotional event

Something I received from Dr Thomas Dixon from Queen Mary University, London. It looks pretty interesting... Would that I had a day off to go down.

Towards a Historical Semantics of Emotions
Special Panel at the 12th Annual Conference of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group
London, September 18th 2009
At the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 16 Taviston Street

Emotions are shaped in multiple ways by different cultures and languages. Rather than innate and universal, they are socially constructed to a large extent, embedded in their political and historical contexts and learnt by the individual. This panel will deal with concepts of emotions as objects of a new direction of study in the History of Concepts to which the conference is dedicated.

Semantic and conceptual history is an approach to the study of key concepts of culture not as fixed and timeless entities, but rather, as molded by the political and social contexts in which they are created and applied, and within which they change. It investigates the ways in which language functions, is employed, transferred and transformed in cultural, political, social, historical and geographic contexts, and the ways that concepts structure and constitute the extra-linguistic experience and reality to which they refer.

The papers in this panel will apply semantic history to concepts of emotions as they are used, appear in, and disappear from, different languages and discourses over time, place, context and cultures.