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Fears and Angers: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Organised by the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

Dates: 19–20 June 2017
Venue: Arts Two Building, Mile End Campus, Queen Mary University of London

According to the wheel of emotions (above) created by the psychologist Robert Plutchik in 1980, angry and fearful emotions are diametrically opposed to each other, as approach and avoidance responses respectively to harmful stimuli.

Plutchik’s is one of many different models suggesting the existence of certain 'basic' or 'primary' emotions. Such lists almost always include both fear and anger. Historically, fearful and angry emotions have been related to each other in different ways – sometimes opposed, sometimes complementary, and sometimes in another way. For Thomas Aquinas, for instance, ira is alone among the passions in having no contrary.

Although basic emotion theorists tend to treat 'fear' and 'anger' as singular emotions, even Plutchik’s wheel includes three different intensities for each emotion – from annoyance to rage and from apprehension to terror. Historians tend to be more attuned to cultural specificities of emotional language, concepts and expression, hence the emphasis in this conference on 'fears' and 'angers' in the plural to encourage a wide range of papers on all sorts of fear-like and anger-like feelings and behaviours in different cultures and periods.

The conference aims to bring humanities scholars of all periods into conversation with each other and with experts in the contemporary study of emotions, including neuroscientists, psychologists, philosophers and linguists.

Conference Committee

Dr Elena Carrera (Queen Mary, University of London)
Professor Thomas Dixon (Queen Mary, University of London)
Evelien Lemmens (Queen Mary, University of London)
Professor Andrew Lynch (The University of Western Australia)
Dr Helen Stark (Queen Mary, University of London)
Dr Giovanni Tarantino (The University of Western Australia)