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Friday, 8 January 2010

Toilet training?

Few emotions are more powerful or more visceral than disgust. And yet few other reactions show much the emotions can vary and as such can be varied by us. Watching some Michael Palin travelogue repeat of him in the Sahara they came to a sequence of the Python sitting on a communal latrine where Roman gentleman would sit and defecate in front of each other, probably whilst chatting away to their co-toileters. It's always described as the men who do these things, and never made clear if the ladies use the same facilities or even the same kind of facilities.

When did we become shy about such things? Billy Connolly tells a great tale about the toilets in the Glasgow shipyard he worked at being communal and how he used to send burning paper boats along the water to burn the backsides of his colleagues. This was only thirty to forty years ago. Are there other cultures/places where the public lavatory really is public for all actions?

Does the constant refinement of disgust in some areas such as toilet behaviour then have a knock on impact its other manifestations?

Apologies to the squeamish for such thoughts, i hesitate to dwell on them myself!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Tudor emotions

Today I received an email from a man called Brad Irish, a student of English doing a doctoral dissertation on emotions in the Tudor court. He asked me to pass on his call for anyone interested in an academic panel he's putting together, and I'm delighted to do so.

Call for Papers: Emotion at the Renaissance Court, MLA 2011 (January 6-9, 2011; Los Angeles)

Proposed special session seeks papers considering emotion and affect in the early modern courtly sphere. The emotional life of a courtier, emotional displays at court, emotion in courtly literature, etc. Abstracts by Mar. 2 to Bradley J. Irish (