Centre's current events

Directions and campus map for the Queen Mary Mile End Campus are available on the College website. 

The People's Palace is number 16, the Arts Two building is 35, the Francis Bancroft is 31, and Laws is 36, on this map.



'It's been emotional': A series of evening film screenings

The Centre for the History of the Emotions is pleased to announce a series of film evenings that aim to explore the representation of emotions on screen. Organised by Dr Katherine Angel and Dr Elena Carrera, the season kicks off with Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011) on 20 February. Each film will be introduced by one of the members of the Centre, with a short time afterwards for discussion. Further details and dates for your diary can be found below - the screenings are free to attend but places are limited so please use the eventbrite links to book your place (links for later screenings will be added closer to the date, so please check back soon or sign up to our mailing list).

20th FEBRUARY 2014  
Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
Introduced by Dr Katherine Angel
Shame is written and directed by Steve McQueen, Turner Prize-winning video artist and director of Hunger and 12 Years A Slave. Widely glossed (including by McQueen himself) as a film about sex addiction, Shame is a fine-grained portrait of sexual compulsion and suffering. Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, an office worker in New York in his mid-thirties whose routine is peppered with somewhat joyless pornography use, masturbation, the chasing of casual encounters, and visits from sex workers. Brandon’s sister (Carey Mulligan) comes to visit, which creates tensions in which Brandon’s suffering peaks. Shame is a film that reveals contemporary anxieties about pornography and addiction, while reflecting deftly on questions of humiliation, aggression, gender, and power.  

Tickets available from eventbrite. SOLD OUT

10th MARCH 2014
Poppy Shakespeare (Benjamin Ross, 2008)
Introduced by Dr Elena Carrera
Poppy Shakespeare is Benjamin Ross’s award-winning Channel 4 film adaptation of Clare Allan’s novel about a psychiatric day hospital in North London. Its protagonist, N, is given the job of showing the ropes to the reluctantly admitted, self-declared ‘sane’ Poppy, who has to learn to play ‘mad’ to be able to afford a lawyer who might get her out. In showing the mirroring relationship between these two ill-fated women as they cross shifting boundaries between sanity and insanity, the film mobilizes the viewer’s sense of alienation, and poses crucial questions about the role of empathy in mental healthcare.

Tickets now available from eventbrite.

15th MAY 2014
Nostalgia for the Light (Patricio Guzmán, 2010)
Introduced by Dr Andrea Brady
Nostalgia for the Light is a documentary by Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile, The Pinochet Case).  In the arid landscapes of the Atacama Desert, Guzman encounters cutting-edge technologies for probing the origins of the universe, archaeologists recovering the remains of the 19th century, and women seeking out their dead, prisoners ‘disappeared’ after the military coup of 1973. The film contrasts these different investigations into place, memory, and the past, tragedy and rationality, science and kinship.

5th JUNE 2014
La Signora di Tutti (Max Ophüls, 1934)
Introduced by Adrian Garvey
Film melodramas, sometimes denigrated as ‘weepies’, are indelibly associated with emotion, both representing and evoking heightened states of love and loss. Active in Europe and Hollywood, German-born Max Ophüls (1902-57), who made such films as Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948) and Madame de… (1953), is among the most acclaimed directors of the genre. La Signora di Tutti was produced in Italy where Ophüls worked briefly as a refugee from Nazism. Narrated in flashback, the film relates the tempestuous romantic life of a film star, Gaby Doriot. Less widely seen than his later work, it demonstrates the director’s characteristic synthesis of motion and emotion, as the expressive fluidity of the mobile camera intensifies the action and our responses to it.


All screenings begin at 6.00pm in the Hitchcock cinema in Arts One, which is building number 37 on this map.

Download a PDF poster for our film screenings.

Lunchtime Seminars, Semester Two 2013-14

15th JANUARY 2014 
Jennifer Otter Bickerdike (University of East London) 

Joy Devotion: A Year of Trash, Trinkets, and Tributes at the Ian Curtis Memorial Stone

For her doctoral research, Jennifer Otter Bickerdike captured images of the fans, flowers, and fauna every month over the course of a year at the grave of Joy Division frontman and lyricist, Ian Curtis. In this talk she will discuss how these ever-changing homages to the singer can provide unique insights into music, community, and memory. 

This seminar takes place in the Francis Bancroft building, room 3.15.

26th FEBRUARY 2014 
Chris Milnes (Birkbeck, University of London) 

Pleasure, Medical Recovery, and 'Euphoria'

This seminar will consider the complex relationship between pleasure, medical recovery and the word ‘euphoria’ in the history of European medicine. Prior to the late 18th century there appeared to have been an assumption that pleasure in the sick could sometimes be interpreted as a sign of medical recovery or health. The pleasure that was understood to accompany ongoing sickness or deteriorating health was usually constructed as singularly intense, creating a clear and recognisable distinction between the spectrum of pleasures associated with medical recovery and health and the singular intensity associated with ongoing sickness or deteriorating health. As a result of developments from the late 18th century onwards, however, it became clearer that a variety of pleasures of variable intensities could be experienced by both people recovering their health, enjoying good health, still experiencing sickness and also experiencing deterioration in health.  The meaning of pleasure, its promise of the occasional moment of clarity within the mysterious realms of disease and otherness and health and sameness, became less reliable. This seminar will examine this phenomenon as it appears to have emerged in the 19th century and it will identify parallels between this history and the evolving meaning of the word euphoria, a word that by the close of the 19th century had taken on the ability to both console and trouble the people who used it.

This seminar takes place in the Francis Bancroft building, room 3.15.

19th MARCH 2014 
Juan Zaragoza (Queen Mary, University of London) 

Places to care, places to heal: Building 'caring spaces' in the late 19th century

Bram Stoker, the then almost unknown author of Dracula, published an interview with Arthur Conan Doyle in July 1907. Stoker went to Doyle’s house in Hindhead where, he noted:

“From where I sat the whole of the lovely valley, at the very head of which the house stands, lay before me. Due south it falls away, spreading wider as it goes, till its lines are lost in distance, an endless sea of greenery. Far away there are ranges of hills piling up, one behind the other, in undulations of varying blue. Even the whole sweep of the horizon visible from our altitude is like a wavy sea.”

A fairy tale-like vista. No wonder that Hindhead was known as ‘the English Switzerland’. The similarities went beyond landscape, and that was what had attracted Doyle: “If we could have ordered Nature to construct a spot for us we could not have hit upon anything more perfect”. But, perfect for what? Doyle elaborated in the same letter to his mother: “its height, its dryness, its sandy soil, its fir trees, and its shelter from all bitter winds present the conditions which all agree to be best in the treatment of phthisis.”

Arthur’s wife had phthisis and Hindhead’s landscape and weather conditions were like those in Switzerland, where they had spent much time from 1894 to 1896, all the while missing England and London’s literary social life. In 1895, after speaking with Grant Allen – fellow author and a consumptive himself – Arthur set about constructing his own therapeutic landscape:

“I rushed down to Hindhead … [where] I bought an admirable plot of ground, put the architectural work into the hands of my old friend [Henry] Ball of Southsea, and saw the builder chosen and everything in train before leaving England. If Egypt was a success, we should have a roof of our own to which to return. The thought of it brought renewed hope to the sufferer.”

Arthur’s house at Hindhead was built to actively take care of his wife. That is, it was a caring space. My questions are: is that possible? There could be places actually taking care of someone? And, if so, how should they be? Arthur Conan Doyle’s story will help us to illuminate some of these issues.

This seminar takes place in the Senior Common Room, Arts Two.

7th MAY 2014 
Kirsty Martin (University of Exeter) 

‘We must make happiness’: Virginia Woolf, Creativity and Contentment in the Early 20th Century

The paper takes as its starting point Woolf’s statement in her 1940 essay ‘Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid’ that in order to create peace in the future, ‘We must make happiness’.  It explores the idea of ‘making happiness’ in Woolf’s work, with a particular emphasis on Mrs Dalloway (1925) and The Years (1937). It also aims to show how Woolf’s work was shaped by broader concerns relating to post-war reconstruction – especially thinking about attempts to re-construct well-being – and arguments for the importance of ‘public happiness’ made by physicians, economists and psychologists. It suggests how Woolf’s work might complicate ongoing thinking about increasing national happiness. With current research into happiness across politics, economics and philosophy, and with politicians including David Cameron suggesting that as well as increasing GDP we need to increase national happiness, the topic of well-being is prevalent in public discourse. This paper will suggest that Woolf’s work provides a way of understanding such concerns, and that she complicates arguments both for and against attempts to increase national happiness. Her work suggests strongly that ‘making happiness’ might always be allied with the fictional, always involving an element of make-believe, always needing to be crafted into existence.

This seminar takes place in the Senior Common Room, Arts Two.

4th JUNE 2014 
Matthew Klugman (Victoria University, Australia) 

A New Mania? Tracing the Emergence of Passionate Modern Spectator Sport Cultures in Manchester, Melbourne and Boston

The mid to late 19th century saw the emergence of intense experiences, expressions and communities of emotion that fuelled the rise of institutions of immense social, cultural and economic power – modern spectator sports. Discussion of the followers of these sports was characterised by intimations of excess and pathology typified by references to ‘mania’, ‘fever’ and ‘madness’. Yet while the social history of sports like Association football, baseball and Australian Rules football has been studied in some detail, these new, often disconcerting cultures of passion that they engendered have been neglected. This paper will use the emergence of modern sports followers to create a place for exchanges between the histories of emotion, sport, urban centres, medicine and “civic” religions. At issue are questions of new and old pleasures and suffering, the intense visceral dimensions of these, the links and cross-over between different forms of mass entertainment and popular culture, and the way mere games could come to seem ‘more important than the fate of nations’ to those who followed them.

This seminar takes place in the Senior Common Room, Arts Two.


All seminars begin at 1pm and lunch is provided. Seminars are scheduled to finish at 2pm but participants are welcome to stay and extend discussion beyond that time if they wish.

To reserve your place, please email emotions@qmul.ac.uk.

Download a PDF poster of our lunchtime seminars.

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