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IHSS Distinguished Visiting Fellow (DVF) events series at the Centre for the History of the Emotions

Professor Daniel Lord Smail, DVF at the School of History at Queen Mary University of London, to deliver a lunchtime seminar discussing violence in medieval Europe and a workshop exploring the methodology behind the “Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe” (DALME) project.

Skeletal muscle

Photo credit: Centre for the History of the Emotions

Lunchtime Seminar: Discussion with Daniel Lord Smail on ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’

Wednesday 25th March 2020, 13:00-14:30

The Better Angels of Our Nature makes a bold contribution to the deep history of human violence. By laying out a framework for understanding this history, Steven Pinker has provided an important point of departure for all future scholarship in this area. Pinker’s depiction of violence in medieval Europe, however, includes serious misrepresentations of the historical reality of this period; his handling of the scholarship on medieval Europe raises doubts about his treatment of other periods. This article also offers a brief review of recent psychological literature that suggests that subjective well-being is historically invariant. In light of this review, I argue that Better Angels is best understood not as a work of history but as a study in moral and historical theology, and recommend that the history of violence should feature the cognitive experiences of victims rather than aggressors.

Further details here.


Conceptual Entities and the Documentary Archaeology of Domestic Life in Medieval Europe Workshop

Friday 27th March 2020, 14:00 

The study of the relationship between humans and things in deep time makes vital contributions to present-day conversations about sustainability. Given the enormous volume of textual and archaeological evidence at our disposal, medievalists, historians and geographers of all stripes have a lot to contribute to these conversations. Following a discussion of papers by Dan Smail and Ian Hodder on the entanglement of human nature and material culture, this workshop will explore the methodology being developed by the DALME project (the “Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe”) to make lists of domestic objects, and the conceptual entities with which they associated, available to scholars interested in the comparative study of late medieval material culture.

Further details here.



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