Emotional Lexicons Continuity and Change in the Vocabulary of Feeling 1700-2000

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-04-15
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Emotions are as old as humankind. But what do we know about them and what importance do we assign to them? Emotional Lexicons is the first cultural history of terms of emotion found in German, French, and English language encyclopaedias since the late seventeenth century. Insofar as these reference works formulated normative concepts, they documented shifts in the way the educated middle classes were taught to conceptualise emotion by a literary medium targeted specifically to them. As well as providing a record of changing language use (and the surrounding debates), many encyclopaedia articles went further than simply providing basic knowledge; they also presented a moral vision to their readers and guidelines for behaviour. Implicitly or explicitly, they participated in fundamental discussions on human nature: Are emotions in the mind or in the body? Can we "read" another person's feelings in their face? Do animals have feelings? Are men less emotional than women? Are there differences between the emotions of children and adults? Can emotions be "civilised"? Can they make us sick? Do groups feel together? Do our emotions connect us with others or create distance? The answers to these questions are historically contingent, showing that emotional knowledge was and still is closely linked to the social, cultural, and political structures of modern societies.

Emotional Lexicons analyses European discourses in science, as well as in broader society, about affects, passions, sentiments, and emotions. It does not presume to refine our understanding of what emotions actually are, but rather to present the spectrum of knowledge about emotion embodied in concepts whose meanings shift through time, in order to enrich our own concept of emotion and to lend nuances to the interdisciplinary conversation about them.

Author Biography

Ute Frevert is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society. From 2003 to 2007 she was professor of German history at Yale University and previously taught History at the Universities of Konstanz, Bielefeld, and the Free University in Berlin. Her research interests include the social and cultural history of the modern period, the history of emotions, gender history, and political history. Some of her best known work has examined the history of women and gender relations in modern Germany, social and medical politics in the nineteenth century, and the impact of military conscription from 1814 to the present day. Ute Frevert is an honorary professor at the Free University in Berlin and member of several scientific advisory boards. In 1998 she was awarded the prestigious Leibniz Prize.

Table of Contents

1. Defining Emotions: Concepts and Debates over Three Centuries, Ute Frevert
2. Topographies of Emotion, Monique Scheer
3. Showing Emotions, Reading Emotions, Anne Schmidt
4. The 'Origin' of Emotions - Sensitive Humans, Sensitive Animals, Pascal Eitler
5. Healing Emotions, Bettina Hitzer
6. Age(ing) with Feeling, Nina Verheyen
7. Felt Distances, Benno Gammerl
8. Social Emotions, Christian Bailey
9. Civility and Barbarism: Emotions as Criteria of Difference, Margrit Pernau
10. Emotional Knowledge - Modern Developments, Ute Frevert

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