The Centre for the History of the Emotions
Welcome to the Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions
On this website you can learn about our members, current and past events, and the aims of our research projects into the politics of passion, the experience of emotion, and theories of feeling past and present. For regular lively discussions relating to all aspects of the history of emotions, see the History of Emotions Blog.
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The Waterworks in Aeon Magazine
Dr Thomas Dixon's latest publication is an online essay in Aeon Magazine on theories of tears and weeping, especially the psychoanalytic idea that tears are a kind of affective overflow or discharge.
Practical Philosophy at Queen Mary
Jules Evans is currently running a series of practical philosophy classes, introducing students, staff, and members of the public to ideas and techniques from ancient philosophy as practical tools for living with our modern emotions.
Margaret Are You Grieving? A Cultural History of Weeping
The Centre's Director, Dr Thomas Dixon, will be exploring the cultural history of weeping as both an inspiration and a response to works of art in a ‘Sunday Feature’ on BBC Radio 3 at 7.45pm on Sunday 27 January 2013. Contributors include Miri Rubin, Fiona Shaw, Ian Bostridge, Giles Fraser, Virginia Eatough, and others.
Philosophical Communities and Emotional Wellbeing
The Centre's Policy Director, Jules Evans, has recently completed a major report on 'Philosophical Communities', past and present, as part of an AHRC-funded project in the 'Connected Communities' scheme. Jules has also launched an international online Philosophy Hub as another major output of the project.
Emotional History of Britain on BBC2
Ian Hislop's new television series about the history of the British stiff upper lip starts this week on BBC2. The series was produced by Wingspan Productions, and this Centre's director, Dr Thomas Dixon acted as academic consultant. Read more about the programme on the BBC website.
Inaugural Annual History of Emotions Lecture
The Centre's inaugural annual lecture will be delivered by Professor Ute Frevert on Monday 22 October 2012. Read more on our events page.
AHRC Connected Communities Funding for Centre
Jules Evans and Thomas Dixon have been awarded an AHRC 'Connected Communities' award to undertake a research review on the theme of 'Philosophical Communities', exploring the historical and contemporary roles of grass-roots philosophy groups in the UK. The project will identify the most important existing scholarly studies and will have a strong practical element, including a workshop for UK organisers of philosophy groups, and an international online hub. Two of the underlying themes of the project are: (1) The history of cognitive theories of emotion, in philosophy and psychology. (2) The role of philosophy as an activity to master passions, manage emotions, and cultivate affection.
Schooling the Emotions
As part of the AHRC-funded 'Embodied Emotions' research project, investigating the history, theory and practice of emotional literacy in primary schools, Thomas Dixon has written a report on his work at Osmani School. The report, entitled 'Feeling Differently: Using Historical Images to Teach Emotional Literacy in an East London School', discusses classroom activities alongside philosophical, scientific, historical and policy considerations about emotions and expression. It is available to download as a PDF here. There was a screening of Bhavesh Hindocha's documentary film about the project as part of the week of events celebrating the opening of the new Arts Two building in March 2012. The film can now be watched on YouTube.
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About the Centre
The Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions, launched in November 2008, is the first research centre in the UK dedicated to the history of the emotions. One of its key objectives is to provide a focus for interactions between social and cultural historians of the emotions on the one hand, and historians of science and medicine on the other. It also seeks to contribute both to policy debates and to popular understandings of all aspects of the history of emotions.
The activities of the Centre relate to research themes such as:
- Theoretical categories: passions, affections, sentiments, feelings, emotions
- The idea of expression: using the emotional body to read the emotional mind
- Madness: passions and pathology in medicine and psychiatry
- Well-being: happiness, public health, and emotions as political objects
- Difference: how have emotions associated with different races, sexes, and sexual orientations been experienced, categorised, and controlled?
- Religion: religious practices and regimes of emotion
- Law: the definition, control, and punishment of passions and emotions
To be added to the History of Emotions email list run by the Centre, please visit the JISCmail homepage for the list to sign up.
On this site you will find a list of members of the Centre, details of our past and future events, and links to related research centres in the UK and abroad, and to classic texts in the history of ideas about passions and emotions.