Following a recent fascinating conference on the topic of ‘Mastering the Emotions’, the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London, have set up a new History of Emotions blog. The blog, which includes several reviews of the many topics covered during the recent conference, will include reviews as well as historical perspectives on current affairs, contemporary culture, and public policy. Ideas of feeling and emotionality have long been bound up in concepts of mental health and ill-health, as well as shifting understandings of what it means to be human and the connections between man and animals. As the recent Centre conference enquired, what does it mean to master one’s emotions? Following the emergence of the modern category of ‘the emotions’ in the early nineteenth century, many writers became concerned with the potentially involuntary nature of human feeling, and the problem of constricting emotions – and producing them on demand – has since troubled psychologists, physicians, philosophers, scientists, writers and artists alike. For topics exploring the pathologisation, regulation, manipulation and repression of emotions, see abstracts from conference papers here, and reviews of the event on the History of Emotions blog here.
This new blog joins the well-established h-madness, which some of our readers may have come across previously. This blog includes reviews of books, journals and conferences within the field of the history of psychiatry, forming a resource for scholars interested in the history of madness, mental illness and their treatment (including the history of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and clinical psychology and social work). Meanwhile, postgraduate researchers in the history of medicine recently decided to set up their own blog on the topic. A recent discussion forum indicated the strong interest in many aspects of the history of psychiatry among such researchers, with papers refuting the “no-neurosis myth” of the Second World War (the widely promoted idea that civilians did not suffer from “war neurosis”), exploring the way in which masculinity was framed in the nineteenth century asylum, and the role of the family in new schizophrenia support groups in the 1970s. The website for this group is still in progress, but Twitter users can sign up for updates by following @PGHistMed.
History of Emotions: “Surprise” and “Disgust” in Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Wellcome Library, London