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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Dr Elena Carrera , LicFil (Universidad de Zaragoza), MA (Nottingham), DPhil (Oxon)


Reader in Comparative Cultural History

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8429
Room Number: Arts One 127
Office Hours: Fridays 1-3pm in Semester Two (I am on Research Leave in Semester One)


I am the Director of the Centre for the History of the Emotions. My teaching focuses on the cultural, literary and social history of Early Modern Spain (modules on Spanish Inquisition and on Cervantes), as well as on comparative European culture (module on Madness Past and Present). I have published on mysticism, nineteenth-century travel writing, the philosophy of Juan Luis Vives, Cervantes, the history of madness (Spain, France and England, 1200-1900), autobiographical writing (from the Middle Ages to WWII), and the history of emotions, particularly fear, anger, empathy and jealousy. My publications include a special issue of the Bulletin of Spanish Studies on madness and melancholy in early modern Spain, and a collection of essays on emotion and health in medieval and early modern Europe. My public engagement activities include a TED talk on nostalgia and hope (in Spanish with English subtitles), which exemplifies my approach to the history of the emotions, a 20-minute video presentation on Women’s Shame in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America, a webinar on García Lorca’s La casa de Bernarda Alba, and an interview for Women’s Hour. My short monograph, Boredom (2023), a short comparative history of boredom from 1500 to the present day, published by Cambridge University Press, is free to download at Boredom ( I am currently completing a monograph on Female Desire and Male Jealousy in Early Modernity for IMLR books.



Authored books:

Edited journal issues and books:

Publications in edited books and refereed journals:

  • ‘Teresa of Avila and Hélène Cixous: corps-à -corps with the mother’, in Journal of the Institute of Romance Studies, 2 (1993), 409-18
  • ‘Heterophagous Passion: Eating the Other, Vomiting the Self’, in Inequality/Theory: Hispanisms, ed. Bernard McGuirk and Mark Millington (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1995), 117-39
  • ‘Intertextuality in Teresa de Avila´s Camino de perfección’, in Hers Ancient and Modern: Women’s Writing in Spain and Brazil, ed. Catherine Davies and Jane Whetnall, Manchester Spanish & Portuguese Studies, 6 (Manchester: University of Manchester, 1997), 15-29
  • ‘Autoridad, autoría y política sexual en los textos de Teresa de Avila’, in Actas del XII Congreso de la Asociación Internacional de Hispanistas: Siglo de Oro, ed. Jules Whicker (Birmingham: University of Birmingham, 1998), 87-97
  • ‘The Reception of Clarice Lispector via Hélène Cixous: Reading from the Whale’s Belly’, in Brazilian Feminisms, ed. Solange Ribeiro and Judith Still (University of Nottingham Press, 1999), 85-100
  • ‘The Fertile Mystical Maze: from Derrida’s Dry Theological Gorge to Cixous’s Dialogic Disgorging’, in Trajectories of Mysticism in Theory and Literature, ed. Philip Leonard (London: Macmillan Press, 2000; New York: St Martin’s Press, 2000), 94-112
  • ‘Writing Rearguard Action, Fighting Ideological Selves: Teresa of Avila’s Reinterpretation of Gender Stereotypes in Camino de perfección’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 79 (2002), 299-308
  • ‘The Spiritual Role of the Emotions in Mechtild of Magdeburg, Angela of Foligno, and Teresa of Avila’, in The Representation of Women’s Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, Lisa Perfetti (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005), 63-89.
  • ‘The Holy Innocents – Mario Camús, Spain, 1984’, in The Cinema of Spain and Portugal, Alberto Mira (London: Wallflower Press, 2005), 179-87
  • ‘Escritura femenina y literatura de viajes. Viajeras inglesas en la España del siglo XIX, lugares comunes y visiones particulares’, in Diez estudios sobre literatura de viajes, Manuel Lucena Giraldo and Juan Pimentel (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2006), 109-30
  • ‘La teatralidad de las lágrimas en Don Quijote (1605)’, in Edad de Oro Cantabrigense. Actas del VII Congreso de la Asociacón Internacional del Siglo de Oro (AISO), Anthony Close (Frankfurt/Madrid:Vervuert/Iberoamericana, 2006), 149-54
  • ‘Pasión and Afección in Teresa of Avila and Francisco de Osuna’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies,2 (2007), 175-91
  • ‘La hermenéutica de la paranoia en El columpio, de Cristina Fernández Cubas’, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies,1 (2007), 1-10
  • ‘Honra, Social Authority, and their Ideological Contradictions: Teresa of Avila’s Views (1565)’, Hispanic Research Journal,4 (2007), 307-17
  • ‘The Emotions in Sixteenth-Century Spanish Spirituality’, Journal of Religious History,3 (2007), 235-52 [abstract]
  • ‘Lovesickness and the Therapy of Desire: Aquinas, cancionero Poetry and Teresa of Avila’s Muero porque no muero’, in Ars eloquentiae. Studies on Early Modern Poetry and Art in Honour of Terence O'Reilly, ed. Barry Taylor and Isabel Torres, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 86.6 (2009), 729-42
  • ‘Madness and Melancholy in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Spain: New Evidence, New Approaches’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 87.8 (2010), 1-15
  • ‘Understanding Mental Disturbance in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Spain: Medical Approaches’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 87.8 (2010), 105-36
  • 'Introduction', in Emotions and Health, 1200-1700 (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2013), 1-17
  • 'Anger and the Mind-Body Connection in Medieval and Early Modern Medicine', in Emotions and Health, 1200-1700 (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2013), 95-146
  • 'The Social Dimension of Shame in Cervantes’s La fuerza de la sangre (1613)', Perífrasis: Revista de Literatura, Teoría y Crítica,7 (2013), 19-36
  • 'Embodied Cognition and Empathy in Cervantes’s El celoso extremeño (1613)', Hispania,1(2014), 113-24
  • 'El miedo en la historia: testimonios de la Gran Guerra’, Rubrica Contemporanea, 7 (2015), 47-66
  • ‘Emotions and Mental Illness’, in The Routledge History of Disease, Mark Jackson (Abingdon; New York: Routledge, 2016), 89-108
  • ‘El miedo y la empatía en la escritura epistolar de Santa Teresa’, in Cinco siglos de Teresa. La proyección de la vida y los escritos de Santa Teresa de Jesús, Esther Borrego and José Manuel Losada (Oviedo: Fundación Masaveu-Peterson, 2016), 27-46
  • ‘Mental Affliction, Deviance and Culpability in Sixteenth-Century Spain: Beyond Binary Categories’, Madness and Deviance in Early Modern Spain, ed. Susana Gala Pellicer, eHumanista, 36 (2017), 23-41
  • ‘From Fear to Courage: The Testimonies of Teresa of Avila and her Early Hagiographers’, in Saint Teresa of Avila: Her Writings and Life. Terence O’Reilly, Colin Thompson and Lesley Twomey (Oxford: Legenda, 2018), 150-66
  • ‘El miedo intersubjetivo en la autobiografía de Teresa de Ávila’, Studia Historica, 40.2 (2018), 63-111
  • ‘Augustinian, Aristotelian, and Humanist Shaping of Medieval and Early Modern Emotion: Affectus, affectio, and ‘affection’ as Travelling Concepts’, in Before Emotion: The Language of Feeling, 400-1800, Juanita Ruys, Michael Champion and Kirk Essay (New York: Routledge, 2019), 170-184
  • ‘Aging, Emotion, and Cognition: the Viejo zeloso and Early Modern Thought’, in Cervantes and the Early Modern Mind, Isabel Jaén Portillo and Julien Simon (New York: Routledge, 2021)

Selected reviews:

Public engagement publications:

  • The uses of anger in medieval and early modern medicine‘, Wellcome History, 49 (Spring 2012), 6-7
  • ‘La santa y la Inquisición: Teresa of Avila’, Historia National Geographic 135 (March 2015), 68-77
  • 'Pain, fear and joy: beyond hysteria’, The Psychologist, 30 (2017), 84-86, (peer-reviewed) 


I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas in Hispanic Studies, History and Comparative Literature:

The history of emotions, from 1300 to the present day

The history of madness in Spain, France and England, 1400-1900

Pre-modern medicine

Women’s history, from 1300 to the present day



Early modern translation


Current PhD Students:

Juanjuan Guo – Gender and Humour in the Early Modern Spanish Entremeses, PhD in Hispanic Studies, co-supervised by John London, funded by the China Scholarship Council (2019-2023)

Past PhD Students:

Catherine Maguire - Maternity in Early Modern Spain, PhD in Hispanic Studies (second supervisor: Rosa Vida Doval), funded by the Wellcome Trust. Completed in 2022.

Rebecca O’Neal - ‘A love of words as words’: metaphor, analogy and the brain in the work of Thomas Willis (1621 -1675)’, PhD in History (co-supervised by Prof. Thomas Dixon), funded by the Wellcome Trust. Completed in 2017.

Richard Firth-Godbehere - ‘The Opposites of Desire and the Prehistory of Disgust, c.1604-c.1751’, PhD in History (co-supervised by Prof. Thomas Dixon), funded by the Wellcome Trust. Completed in 2017.

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