Powerful Emotions / Emotions & Power c. 400-1850

L’Université de York (GB) et l’ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions organise un colloque sur ce sujet les 28-29 juin 2017 à York.

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‘Emotional control is the real site of the exercise of power’ (William Reddy, 1997)

Scholars across the humanities and social sciences are increasingly turning their attention to the affective dimension of power, and the way in which emotions are implicit in the exercise of power in all its forms. The language of power has long been used to calibrate the impact of emotions – feelings ‘shake’ and ‘grip’ us; we read of and recall moments when passions convulsed communities and animated violent actions. Strategic displays of emotion have regularly been used for the exercise and negotiation of power.

This conference will draw on a broad range of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary expertise to address the relationships between two fundamental concepts in social and historical inquiry: power and emotion. How are historical forms of cultural, social, religious, political and soft power linked with the expression, performance and control of emotions? How has power been negotiated and resisted through expressions of emotions? How have emotional cultures sustained or been produced by particular structures of power? How have understandings and expressions of emotion played out within cross-cultural encounters and conflicts? What has been the relationship between intimate, personal feeling and its public, collective manifestations?

Literary and artistic works as well as objects of diverse kinds are often said to produce or to have elicited powerful emotions. Yet how has this varied across time, space, cultures and gender? What visual, verbal and gestural rhetorics have been considered to act most potently upon the emotions in different periods? How have these conventions related to ideas of the inexpressibility of powerful or traumatic emotional experience, its resistance to aesthetic articulation? What are the implications of this for the recoverability of past emotional experience? And how does the study of the power of feeling relate to more traditionally social conceptions of hierarchy, society, and power? What new understandings of the workings of power do we gain through the perspective of a history of emotions?

This interdisciplinary conference is jointly organized by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Centres for Medieval Studies, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York. It invites papers that address the above issues from disciplines including, but not restricted to: history, religion, literature, art, music, politics, archaeology, philosophy and anthropology.

Papers and panels might focus on the following questions and themes:

  • Emotion and political and social action: How have emotions been used by various political, religious and other groups to reinforce or to undermine social and political hierarchies? What role did gender play in these processes?
  • Dynasty, rule and emotional display.
  • The affective dimensions of war, protest, revolution and nation building
  • Diplomacy and the negotiation of cross-cultural emotions
  • Religious change, power and emotions
  • How has the relationship between emotions / passions and power been understood and theorized across time?
  • The micro-politics of intimate relationships and gendered power
  • The role of ritual, object and liturgy in managing, intensifying, or disciplining political, religious or other emotions
  • What techniques and venues have been used to construct and amplify collective emotions? Papers might consider mass meetings, crowds, congregations, theatres, assemblies and clubs.

The organisers welcome proposals for individual 20-minute papers, for panels (which may adopt a more innovative format, including round-tables, a larger number of short presentations), or for postgraduate poster presentations.

Proposals should be sent to Pam Bond, Administrative Officer at the Centre for the History of Emotions, University of Western Australia. Email: emotions@uwa.edu.au by Friday 27 January 2017.