Experience history in action, how human emotions have changed over the centuries, and the impact it has had on Australia today. Read the latest news from the History of Emotions:

4 June 2014
Relics and emotions    
CHE visit sparks new research
Emotions projects unwrapped
Extending emotions
Emotions and social change
New insights into scholarly community at the Early University of Paris
Publications update
New Associate Investigator
Selected forthcoming events

From the Deputy Director

Jane DavidsonThis mid-year newsletter brings you summaries of our recent activities and announcements of forthcoming events and outputs. A headline item in this issue is that June heralds our mid-term review. It is hard to believe that three and a half years have gone by already, but life in CHE has never been slow-paced and we now assess our progress and plan for the future with enthusiasm. We start this period of appraisal and development by announcing that a second Deputy Director position has been created. I am pleased to announce is this role will go to our newest Chief Investigator recruit, Professor Andrew Lynch. He will be responsible for supporting the central management concerns of the Centre and take on a special portfolio to mentor our ever-expanding postdoctoral community. Andrew’s addition to the Executive brings strong experience in governance and leadership, being the current Director of The University of Western Australia’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies as well as Discipline Chair for Medieval and Early Modern Studies and President of the Australian and New Zealand Branch of the International Arthurian Society. Andrew was also a founding member and a Director of The ARC Network for Early European Research (NEER), one of the Research Networks funded by the Australian Research Council for the period 2004-2009. I hope that all associated with CHE will support the addition of this new post to CHE’s Executive and welcome Andrew to it.

Jane Davidson
Deputy Director for Communications, Education, Outreach and Industry Partnerships

Relics and emotions

Relics of St Valerius, Weyarn, Germany. ©Paul Koudounaris, Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs  (London: Thames and Hudson) 2013.On Friday 21 March this year, CHE Chief Investigator Charles Zika and Postdoctoral Fellow Sarah Randles convened a symposium on the subject of Relics and Emotions, under the auspices of the Change program. Participants considered the emotional responses to the bodily remains of saints and the objects that came into contact with them across a broad range of time periods from late Antiquity to modern Australia.

“Although this was originally envisaged as a relatively small study day, it became apparent that the topic was of wider interest than anticipated, and bookings reluctantly had to be closed several days early as numbers of participants approached the capacity of the venue. Around ninety people attended the event”, Zika said.

The first session of the day focused on bodily relics and bodily responses to relics, as well as issues of authenticity. The opening paper by Felicity Harley-McGowan (The University of Melbourne) emphasised the importance given in early medieval accounts of the relics of the True Cross as evidence for Christ’s life, as well as the place of touch in its veneration, including the practices of kissing, licking and even biting the relics. In the next paper, Helen Hickey (The University of Melbourne) discussed liquid relics in the form of blood and tears, in particular the Holy Tear relic at Vendôme, considered as evidence for Christ’s humanity, and revered for its ability to heal diseases of the eye. The final paper of the first session, delivered by Lisa Beaven (The University of Sydney), focused on the Christian relics of the absent body disclosed in the form of stones believed to be imprinted by divine beings, both saints and angels. Lisa referred to this practice as an example of an emotional need to maintain long-standing beliefs, since imprint stones also featured in earlier pagan contexts.

The second panel session presented three closely linked papers that addressed aspects of the role of relics in the Counter-Reformation, particularly the roles that they could play in promoting Catholic royalist and nationalist purposes. Matthew Martin (National Gallery of Victoria) argued that Jacobite coin glasses could be considered as touch relics when they contained the Maundy money touched by the kings Charles II and James II. Claire Walker (The University of Adelaide) focused on the relationship between the Jacobite cause and the relics of the Roman Saint Justin the Martyr given to the English Augustinian convent in Paris by Mary of Modena. Charles Zika (The University of Melbourne) considered the relics of Roman catacomb saints, Saints Cyrillus and Eleutherius, given by Pope Innocent X to the Austrian national shrine of Mariazell. These jewel-encrusted relics could be seen as votive offerings to the cult image of the Virgin, which formed the focus of the shrine.

After lunch, Constant Mews (Monash University) spoke about the relics of St Catherine of Siena and St Thomas Aquinas, in the context of the latter’s Office of Corpus Christi, in which the Eucharist was proposed as the paradigm for devotion to relics. The paper by Sarah Randles (The University of Melbourne) linked the medieval practices around clothing relics to contemporary Australian responses to St Mary MacKillop and her clothing relics.

The final presentation for the day was a thought-provoking keynote paper delivered by Alexandra Walsham (University of Cambridge), in which she discussed both Protestant and Catholic attitudes to holy matter in post-Reformation England, exploring the relationship between the ideas of relic and commodity. Click
here to watch an interview with Alexandra Walsham.

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CHE visit sparks new research

Matthew GrenbyThe Centre’s international visiting fellow scheme brought Professor Matthew Grenby from Newcastle University, to the Universities of Western Australia (UWA) and Adelaide in February 2014.

Grenby’s research focuses on British literature and culture in the long eighteenth century, particularly cultures of childhood (including children’s literature and education). He is currently working on an edition for Oxford University Press of the letters of the philosopher, novelist, educationalist and publisher William Godwin (vol.3, 1806-15).

During his time at CHE, Grenby mainly looked at children’s friendships in the early modern period, focusing on the representation of friendship in children’s literature c.1700-1840. At UWA, he presented his work at a public lecture entitled ‘Delight in Friendship: the proprieties of affection in early British children’s literature’. The lecture is available
online. He also ran a ‘work-in-progress’ workshop on some more general aspects of children’s emotion in the long eighteenth century, entitled ‘Educating the Emotions’.

Grenby’s presentation at The University of Adelaide focused on existing work that he had re-fashioned because of his engagement with the history of emotions. It was entitled ‘Feeling anti-Jacobinism: enlisting the emotions in the fiction of the British “War of Ideas”, 1790-1805’.

Grenby found the fellowship at the CHE to be substantial and precious because it enabled him to have a period of time to devote to new research. Reflecting on the experience, he commented:

“My research benefitted very much from the advice of CHE colleagues. Work-shopping my ideas, especially as I developed my thinking on the place of emotions in children’s lives (both in reality, and through the literature written for them), was extremely useful. Through the insights into the new work being conducted at CHE, I was able to gain much information from attending seminars and presentations. Perhaps even more than this, it was the assistance and ideas gained from casual conversations with CHE staff and students that enabled me to develop a new area of my research so quickly. It seems to me that this is exactly the kind of ‘knowledge exchange’ that a fellowship should enable”.

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Emotions projects unwrapped

Medieval folksAs part of a celebration of CHE research (see #ThinkCHE on Facebook or Twitter) we are launching a new section on our website which highlights individual research projects within the Centre.

Projects can be browsed by time period and research programs (Meanings, Change, Performance and Shaping the Modern). They demonstrate the breadth of CHE research, ranging from Postdoctoral Fellow Una McIlvenna’s project on
execution ballads to Chief Investigator Stephanie Trigg’s project on ‘Speaking Faces’.
These pages offer a way for CHE to reveal the ongoing story of its cutting-edge humanities research. Although not all of CHE’s projects are represented yet, most of the existing projects will be uploaded by the end of August 2014, in time for our
new round of postdoctoral research fellows.

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Extending emotions

Sri Lankan dancersEducation and outreach is a part of CHE’s remit to disseminate its findings to the Australian public. With the Centre’s mid-term just around the corner, CHE’s five hubs around Australia have developed a strong presence in schools and the community.

One of the flagship projects running since 2012 is the Zest Festival based in Kalbarri, WA. CHE is engaged in communicating the emotional history underpinning the Dutch East India Company’s (VOC) trading route and how this touched Australia, specifically investigating the emotional impact of this history in today’s culture. In this way, the History of Emotions are placed at the centre of this five-year Festival created to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the VOC ship, the Zuytdorp, on the cliffs north of Kalbarri.

To increase the reach of Zest, CHE is providing country and metropolitan schools around WA with special Education Packs for each year of the Festival. In 2014, themed ‘The colour of ritual, the spice of life: faith, fervour and feeling’, the pack focuses on the VOC’s involvement in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka and is available on our

The Centre, in partnership with the Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC), will also explore Indonesian music and its emotional ritual significance through practical work with Kalbarri District High School students. Taught by performer and music teacher Dr Peter Hadley, the students will bring their project to the Zest Festival’s ‘Chamber of Rhetoric’ for performance on the beach. Patrons will also be able to attend a cultural session to uncover the significance of gamelan in Indonesian society.

This is not the first time CHE has cooperated with MLC. Last year a successful production of John Blow’s masque Venus and Adonis was performed with school students, professional musicians and community participants. In March 2014, a second opera project, Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell and Nahum Tate (composed between 1685 and 1689), was produced with a cast of school-aged students. This opera production drew on historical performance practices and enabled students to explore emotional meaning in artistic context. The work offered students insights into the musical, dance and dramatic standards that were required of performers in the seventeenth century.

WA Education and Outreach Officer (EOO), Melissa Kirkham recently launched a new ‘Emotions and the Black Death’ workshop for year 8 history students. This year alone, Melissa has delivered workshops to 469 students, and included seven new schools in her WA educational outreach. Any school may take advantage of CHE’s education resources by contacting

Penelope Lee, EOO from The University of Melbourne node, hosted Student Discovery Day workshops on campus on Tuesday 27 May, while Shakespeare was the main flavour on The University of Adelaide’s CHE menu. Education and Outreach Officer Carly Osborn has presented Shakespeare workshops to approximately 270 students, working in partnership with The University of Adelaide’s Theatre Guild, which is currently performing Romeo and Juliet.

CHE’s University of Sydney node has expanded its ‘Are Your Feelings in Your Face?’ workshop, having now introduced this theme to almost 300 year 3 students at the University’s recent Campus Experience day. During Reconciliation Week, EOO Cassie Charlton ran ‘Poetry and Pride Workshops’. Thirty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 7 & 8 students used poetry to express their ideas, concerns and emotions. Inspired and encouraged by Aboriginal poet Lorna Munro, the students used free verse poetry to explore pride in their cultural identity, culminating in an impressive and powerful collection of poems. The group reflected on how the concept of pride has changed over time and explored the role of pride in achieving social justice for Indigenous people in Australia today.

The University of Queensland’s node is now renowned for its high-quality teacher development
workshops. The next Secondary School English and Drama Teachers workshop is entitled ‘Listening to Shakespeare’s Foreigners’ and will be held on Thursday 12 June 2014.
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Emotions and social change

Emotions and Social change book coverChange program leader, David Lemmings and Associate Investigator, Ann Brooks, have published a new edited collection entitled Emotions and Social Change: Historical and Sociological Perspectives (Routledge, New York, 2014).

The edited collection stems from the first CHE International Change Program Collaboratory, jointly coordinated by Lemmings and Brooks, held at The University of Adelaide in February 2011, shortly after the Centre began its work. The interdisciplinary Collaboratory brought together historians, sociologists and cultural theorists to focus on the seminal ideas of the sociologist Norbert Elias presented in his The Civilising Process (1939).

Besides making substantive contributions to historical knowledge, the speakers at that Collaboratory addressed two important theoretical questions: what are the drivers of change in western societies' emotional regimes?; and, what is the role of collective emotions in socio-historical change?

As Lemmings comments: “These questions were chosen because of their intrinsic importance and their salience for sociologists and anthropologists, as well as historians and students of law, media, politics and religion”.

The edited collection adopts a critical perspective on Norbert Elias’s theory, through historical essays and contemporary analysis, focusing on changes in emotional regimes or styles and considers the intersection of emotions and social change, historically and contemporaneously.

Brooks notes that: “The book is set in the context of increasing interest among humanities and social science scholars in reconsidering the significance of emotion and affect in society, and the development of empirical research and theorizing around these subjects”.

According to Lemmings and Brooks, some have labelled this interest as an "affective turn" or a "turn to affect", which suggests a profound and wide-ranging reshaping of disciplines. Building upon complex theoretical models of emotions and social change, the chapters exemplify this shift in analysis of emotions and affect, and suggest different approaches to investigation that may help to shape the direction of sociological and historical thinking and research.

Lemmings and Brooks note in the introduction to their book: “Conceived in these discursive, culturally contingent, and existentially political ways, the study of emotions is rich territory for investigating social practice and change.”

here to view this publication.

New insights into scholarly community at the Early University of Paris

Scholarly Community at the Early University of ParisSpencer Young, CHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia, has uncovered a vibrant intellectual community in medieval Paris.

Young’s new book, entitled Scholarly Community at the Early University of Paris: Theologians, Education and Society, 1215-1248 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), explores a vital, though often overlooked, chapter in the history of one of medieval Europe’s most important legacies to the modern world.

“The first half of the thirteenth century was a transformative period in the history of higher education”, Young says. "There were competing visions of what the university should be and it wasn’t clear in what form, or even if, the new institution would survive”.

Drawing upon a variety of evidence, including many texts available only in medieval manuscripts, Young weaves together the early university’s institutional and intellectual histories. In the process, he shows how medieval academics helped establish the university’s important role within thirteenth-century Europe through their interactions with political and religious authorities, their discussions on the social and religious obligations of educated masters, and their lively debates on matters ranging from the value of Aristotle’s natural philosophy for Christian theology to whether moneylenders or prostitutes could pay alms from money they earned through their morally stigmatized labours.

“Understanding these debates, and the people behind them, helps us better appreciate why the university became such a prominent institution within the late medieval world”, Young points out. “While some of the concerns have changed, the university remains fundamental today. Awareness of its long history is essential for making the right decisions about its shape going forward”.

Young’s book is available for purchase
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Publications update

We’d also like to congratulate Associate Investigator Richard Yeo for his book, Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science, (University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2014).

In our next edition we cast the spotlight on UWA postdoctoral research fellow Danijela Kambaskovic’s book (ed), Conjunctions of Mind, Soul and Body from Plato to the Enlightenment, (New York, Heidelberg: Springer Publishing, 2014), due out at the end of June 2014. This publication includes a foreword by Deputy Director Andrew Lynch, and individual chapters by Associate Investigators Daniel Derrin, Alicia Marchant, and Richard Read, Director Philippa Maddern, and Chief Investigator Bob White.

New Associate Investigator

David Irving (The Australian National University) was appointed as an Associate Investigator in May 2014. His research project is entitled ‘Others at the Opera: Emotional Responses of Non-Europeans to Musical Performances in Early Modern Europe’. The next round of calls for Associate Investigators applications will open in August 2014.
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Selected forthcoming events

Secondary School English and Drama Teachers workshop:

Listening to Shakespeare’s Foreigners
Date: Thursday 12 June, 2014
Time: 4:30-6:00pm (reception to follow)
Venue: University of Queensland, Michie Building No. 9), Level 6, Room 601
Presenter: Prof Jonathan Gil Harris (Ashoka University) Dr Jennifer Clement (The University of Queensland)
Contact: Penny Boys at

Weird Reading
Presenter: Eileen Joy
Date: Tuesday 24 June 2014
Time: 2:00-4:00 pm
Venue: Linkway room, 4th floor, John Medley Building, The University of Melbourne.
Contact: Jessica Scott at

The Anthroposcene: Artists and Writers in Critical Dialogue with Nature and Ecosystems
Date: 17-18 June
Venue: Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University
Workshop facilitators:
Timothy M Collins BFA MFA PhD, Artist, Author and Planner
Reiko Goto Collins BFA MFA PhD, Artist, Author and Designer
For more information go to

Affective Habitus: New Environmental Histories of Botany, Zoology and Emotions
Date: 19-21 June, 2014
Venue: Humanities Research Centre, ANU
Confirmed Keynotes include: Tim Collins, Tom Griffiths, Eileen Joy, Michael Marder (remotely), John Plotz, Elspeth Probyn, Ariel Salleh, Will Steffen (remotely), Wendy Wheeler, Linda Williams and Gillen D'Arcy Wood.
The conference will be held in the Sir Roland Wilson Building, the Australian National University, Canberra
Contact: Grace Moore at

In Form of War: Emotions and Warfare in Writing 1300-1820
Date: 27-28 June, 2014
Venue: Webb Lecture Theatre, Geography and Geology Building, The University of Western Australia
Contact: Pam Bond at

Presenters: Craig Taylor and Catherine Nall
Date: 26 June, 2014
Time: 10.00-3.00 pm
Venue: Old Senate Room, Irwin St Building, The University of Western Australia
Contact: Pam Bond at

Five Centuries of Melancholia
Date: 30 August to 30 November 2014
The University of Queensland Art Museum
Contact: Penny Boys at p.boys@uq.edu.au

2014 Zest Festival: The Colour of Ritual: the Spice of Life; Faith, Fervour and Feeling
Date: 20-21 September 2014
Venue: Kalbarri, Western Australia

Contact: Rebecca Millar at rebecca.millar@uwa.edu.au

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