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:

16 September 2016


Andrew LynchEmotions History – Making an Impact

Around Australia, universities are responding quickly to an increasing demand to measure and report ‘research impact’. The emphasis on ‘impact’ began some years ago as a push from universities outside the Group of Eight to ensure more recognition for the benefits of applied research. It has more recently been strengthened by the federal government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, whose ‘four key pillars’ include ‘allocating more university funding to research that is done in partnership with industry’. It has been widely understood that the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines are the main beneficiaries of this agenda.

On the other hand, the Australian Research Council takes a broad view of research impact: ‘the demonstrable contribution that research makes to the economy, society, culture, national security, public policy or services, health, the environment, or quality of life, beyond contributions to academia’. The ARC site – http://www.arc.gov.au/research-impact-principles-and-framework – makes for interesting reading.

It is unlikely that the proponents of the Innovation and Science Agenda had the history of emotions in mind when they framed their plans. Nevertheless, the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) keeps showing how well humanities research can work in the world ‘beyond academia’. Our recent and current research-driven industry collaborations include partners ranging from Musica Viva, Pinchgut Opera, the National Gallery of Victoria and Globe Education UK to Tourism Western Australia, Multicultural Arts Victoria and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. Our research and innovation is ‘demonstrably contributing’ to society, culture, health and quality of life, as many of the later items in this newsletter indicate in more detail. We need to keep making that contribution clear to our universities, to the government and to the public.

By the time this newsletter is published, I will be on the way to Kalbarri, WA, for the 2016 Zest Festival, entitled ‘Eendracht – Unity, Accepting a World of Difference’. Zest is a kind of sampler of our community, education and arts engagement brought together in an extraordinary event. Circus, comedy, cooking and kite flying will mix with symphonic and vocal music, Indian dancing, schools displays and sessions on Malacca, Dirk Hartog, Golden Age Dutch artefacts, and the rich Indigenous culture of the Nhanda people. The many visitors to the Festival will bring considerable benefits to the local economy.

Twenty-four organisations are involved as sponsors in the Festival, from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Kalbarri Men’s Shed. CHE contributes the historical research and funds the outstanding festival director, Rebecca Millar. Melissa Kirkham, the UWA node Education and Outreach Officer, writes the education resources to engage schools. We produce marketing to share the event with others, and provide the local and visiting experts to share their knowledge of emotions history. The Zest Festival is a great example of how academic research in the humanities can enrich the quality of life in Australia. I will be a very proud representative of CHE there this weekend.
Andrew Lynch


Image: Giovanni Pisano, The Crucified Christ, c.1285-1300. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.By Paul Megna (CHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Western Australia)

The ‘Medieval Emotions and Contemporary Methodologies’ workshop, co-convened by Birkbeck, University of London and CHE, was held at Birkbeck on 8 July 2016. It drew a diverse crowd of scholars eager to assess the methodological challenges of taking a history of emotions approach to the study of medieval rhetoric, literature, music, architecture, legal practices and visual arts.

Starting the day, Rita Copeland (University of Pennsylvania) offered an animated account of the medieval inheritance of classical rhetoric. Tracing the medieval afterlife of Cicero’s youthful treatise De Inventione, Copeland argued that medieval thinkers theorised emotion as an ‘attribute of the person’ that must be taken into account in developing and reforming rhetorical methodology.

Next, Ella Kilgallon (Queen Mary, University of London) explored how the scholarly task of reconstructing medieval sounds, gestures and bodily movements can help us to better understand the relationship between sacred space and architecture. As a case study, Kilgallon analysed textual accounts of Angela of Foligno’s entrance into two important churches in Assisi, the Basilica San Francesco and the Porziuncola, alongside dazzling images of these sites in order to speculatively reconstruct the emotional tenor of these events.

Likewise bridging the gap between visual and textual culture, Stephanie Downes (The University of Melbourne) discussed how her ongoing research into the surprisingly frequent occurrence of images of faces in the margins of medieval manuscripts brings history of emotions scholarship together with research into cognitive psychology, as well as object-oriented materialism. Displaying a wide array of human face images, Downes described how such images supplement textual modes of transmitting emotions by taking advantage of neurological and physiological processes of facial recognition.

Turning to the emotions surrounding legal practice, former CHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow and current UWA Honorary Research Fellow, Rebecca F. McNamara (University of California, Los Angeles), considered the extent to which an analysis of the language of medieval legal documents concerning suicide can help us to understand the complex emotional practices that accompanied their production. By interrogating the formal language used in documents detailing decisions by the crown to restore goods and chattels to the widows of suicides, McNamara made a powerful case for the emotional impact of such decisions.

Exploring the capacious semantic range of the Middle English word ‘craft’, Anke Bernau (The University of Manchester) presented intriguing research on the emotions surrounding medieval cultures of making. Among her fascinating insights, Bernau observed that modern emotional expressions pertaining to artificial intelligence mirror those of medieval subjects comparing human-made craftwork to that employed in God’s creation of humanity.

Capping off this invigorating workshop was a paper by Bruce Holsinger (University of Virginia) on the long and difficult relationship between liturgy and emotion, both in modern theology and medieval commentary and practice. Holsinger paired an examination of sections of Caxton’s Golden Legend concerning the liturgy of Septuagisima with an impassioned analysis of a modern performance of medieval music, in order to elucidate the complex, trans-historical dynamics of liturgical emotion.


Image: Brock Brown, Feelings of Black Saturday, 2009, acrylic on paper, 29.6 x 41.8 cm, The Cunningham Dax Collection, 2015.0091By Emma Miller (CHE Media and Communications Officer, The University of Melbourne)

More than 140 delegates attended the ‘Children’s Voices in Contemporary Australia’ symposium held at The University of Melbourne on 9 September 2016, with the CHE organisers declaring the event a huge success.

‘Children’s Voices in Contemporary Australia’ addressed the cultural, political and legal settings that have allowed institutional child sexual abuse, the detention of asylum seeker children, and the sometimes inadequate treatment of disorders such as autism to continue in our society.

This one-day, cross-disciplinary event brought together researchers, practitioners and professionals, as well as young people with lived experience, to discuss how children can find a voice – and ensure that society listens.

Melissa Raine, an Associate Investigator with CHE, said she was thrilled with the response from attendees at the symposium, which featured neuroscientist Jonathan Delafield-Butt as the keynote speaker, more than 20 other speakers from a range of disciplines and a Youth Panel where young people spoke of the challenges they have faced. Raine hopes to continue the work started at the symposium with the development of policy statements that can be presented to policymakers around the country.

For more on the outcomes from this unique event, see Melissa Raine’s article
'Reflecting on Children’s Voices: Creating Space to Listen' on CHE’s Histories of Emotions blog.

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Image: Production still from Henry V (2015), dir. Gregory Doran, Royal Shakespeare Company. Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC.  By Xanthe Ashburner (CHE Education and Outreach Officer, The University of Queensland)

At The University of Queensland (UQ) node of CHE, the first weeks of September have seen the continuation of ‘The Delighted Spirit: Shakespeare at UQ 2016’, a year-long series of events marking the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare in 1616.

From 5–9 September, in collaboration with the UQ School of Communication and Arts, the node hosted the 2016 UQ Lloyd Davis Memorial Fellowship in Shakespeare Studies (an annual visiting professorship established in 2006 to honour the memory of Professor Lloyd Davis, a leading scholar of Shakespeare who taught for many years at UQ).

This year’s Lloyd Davis Fellow was John Wyver, who is co-founder of the production company Illuminations, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Westminster and producer of several theatre films and live-to-cinema broadcasts with the Royal Shakespeare Company. John Wyver delivered a public lecture entitled ‘Being There: Shakespeare, Theatre Television, and Live Cinema’ – which focused on the problem of ‘presentness’ in screen renditions of theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s plays – and led a masterclass for postgraduate students. The masterclass examined a series of live cinema and film productions of Henry V, and encouraged participants to reflect upon the unique screen languages utilised in live cinema productions of this and other plays.

On 8 September, Peter Holbrook (Chief Investigator with CHE and Director of the UQ node) appeared at the Brisbane Writers Festival to take part in a conversation with Sarah Kanowski (ABC Radio National) about Shakespeare’s works and legacy. Their discussion focused on the politics of Shakespearean tragedy (in particular, that genre’s engagement with concepts of human freedom), and on the role of institutions, in particular schools and universities, in preserving and curating artistic achievements such as Shakespeare’s. The conversation will be broadcast in the future on Kanowski’s ‘Books and Arts’ program.

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Image: Moritz von Schwind, Queen of the Night, about 1864-1867, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los AngelesEmma Miller (Media and Communications Officer, The University of Melbourne)

An exciting collaboration between CHE, the Victorian College of the Arts and the Early Music Studio at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) will bring a little-known Baroque opera to the stage in September, providing a wealth of opportunities to explore the history of emotions.

Frenchman Marc-Antoine Charpentier wrote the two-act opera La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers (The Descent of Orpheus to the Underworld) in 1686, but it has rarely been performed and has never been seen in Australia.

CHE’s Deputy Director and Performance Program Leader, Jane Davidson, will stage direct the two-night performance, Baroque experts from MCM bring musical leadership to the work: renowned musical director Erin Helyard will conduct from the harpsichord, David Irving will lead the orchestra, while Stephen Grant has coached the singers.

Davidson said it will be fascinating to see how students respond to the Baroque form, with its highly codified emotional expression and intense focus on moving the emotions of the audience.

Coinciding with this unique performance, CHE and the Musicological Society of Australia will host ‘
Opera: The Art of Emotions’, a collaboratory that will investigate how emotions have been conceived, performed and experienced across the history of opera. International guests, including keynote speaker Neal Zaslaw from Cornell University, will travel to Australia for this prestigious event.

The collaboratory will run from 30 September to 1 October 2016, while the Charpentier opera will be performed on 28 and 29 September at the Grant Street Theatre, Southbank campus of the Faculty of the VCA and MCM at The University of Melbourne.

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By Bob White (Chief Investigator with CHE and Meanings Program Leader, The University of Western Australia)

Celebrating Shakespeare 400 years after his death, the World Shakespeare Congress was held from 30 July to 6 August 2016, and moved between Stratford-upon-Avon (the Royal Shakespeare Company’s base) and Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

CHE was represented at the Congress by a roundtable panel on the topic ‘Shakespeare and the Passions’, chaired by CHE’s International Partner Investigator Indira Ghose (Fribourg University, Switzerland).

Panel members reflected on the history of emotions in their own work. Lynn Enterline (Vanderbilt University), a plenary speaker at a 2013 CHE conference, spoke of her research on ‘Ovid, Rhetoric, Emotion’, linking her interests in classical and early modern literature, gender and emotion. Richard Meek (University of Hull), who will be a CHE Distinguished International Visitor in 2017, described his current project on the representation of sympathy by early modern writers, including Kyd, Marlowe, Daniel and Shakespeare. Katharine Craik (Oxford Brookes University) spoke about her work on the ways Shakespeare moved – and still moves – minds, bodies and souls. Former CHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow
and current UWA Honorary Research Fellow, Ross Knecht (Emory University), explored what humanist pedagogy and the tradition on grammar tells us about the history of passion as a concept, through an etymological study of the word ‘passion’, the primary term in the early modern lexicon of feeling. Bob White (UWA) spoke about his collaborations with CHE International Partner Investigator Louis Charland (Western University, Canada) on passions in Shakespeare as an example of CHE’s international work and interdisciplinary approach. He also advocated the unique value of the New Fortune Theatre at UWA as a research tool for theatre historians and practitioners, emphasising six events CHE has mounted since 2011. Bríd Phillips (CHE Doctoral Candidate, UWA) presented her research on colour in Shakespeare’s works, and explained how it functions to represent and elicit emotional states.

These brief presentations were followed by vigorous, engaged questions and debate from an exceptionally large audience. The enthusiastic response suggests that the session could well have continued for several hours, and that we succeeded in generating interest in the history of emotions at the World Shakespeare Congress.

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Rebecca McNamara‘Thine Enemy’ is a new research project under development by CHE Doctoral Candidate Michael Ovens, with the collaboration of Director Andrew Lynch, to explore how virtual reality technologies can be used to facilitate teaching and learning within the Humanities.

The project’s central output is the creation of an experiential game for the HTC Vive virtual reality platform in which students can duck, parry and swing at virtual opponents in order to discover the physical, cultural and emotional histories of medieval combat. Andrew and Michael were awarded joint funding of $14,395 by UWA’s Centre for Education Futures to pursue this project. They aim to produce a playable version of ‘Thine Enemy’ by February 2017 and an article on the opportunities and pitfalls of the process by June 2017.

The design of the game is based on the first chapter of Michael’s doctoral thesis, currently under examination, in which he argues that twelfth-century debates over whether it was better to ‘love your enemies’ (Matthew 5:44) or ‘hate those who hate [God]’ (Psalm 139:21) shaped the representation of emergent chivalric identities. Drawing on Michael’s experience in the performance of historical European martial arts, and on his and Andrew’s research on medieval violence and chivalry, ‘Thine Enemy’ will immerse participants in the histories of emotions associated with medieval combat.

Michael is seeking additional collaborators and funding in both the short and long term to develop this project from a single experience to a virtual reality ecosystem of emotional and experiential research. Interested parties can e-mail
michael.ovens@research.uwa.edu.au for further information.


By Frederic Kiernan (The University of Melbourne)

Music and Mourning: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, eds. Jane W. Davidson and Sandra Garrido. Farnham: Ashgate, 2016.

The variegated and complex nature of mourning has received increased attention from scholars in recent years, and this multi-faceted volume represents a significant and valuable contribution to the literature. The collection of studies examines the role of music in mourning across time and culture from several different scholarly perspectives, including cultural history, ethnomusicology, music therapy and psychology.

Editors Jane Davidson and Sandra Garrido co-author the opening three chapters, with the first serving as an introduction to the volume, and discussing the development of scholarly interest in the role of music in mourning rituals across the disciplines. Chapters two and three discuss the results of three empirical investigations into the role of music in the modern funeral, the types of musical choices made and the motivations behind those choices, showing how music can serve as a powerful tool for expressing the convergence of celebration and loss in the complex emotion of grief.

In chapter four, Dolly McKinnon delves back into history with an investigation of the practice of bell-ringing as a marker of death in England between 1500 and 1700, and the ways this practice delineated, through sound, religious and political allegiances across England. Using a theoretical framework drawn from psychodynamics, Helen Dell then investigates in chapter five the emotional significance of revenant ballads from the medieval British Isles, and the messages from the dead encoded within them as perceived by the ballad writers.

In chapter six, Sandra Garrido and Waldo Garrido venture beyond the Western European tradition to explore the use of music in funerals in three very different contexts: the jazz funeral in the United States, the lament in Georgia and the 'cantos de ángeles' of Chile. Using a psychological approach, the authors examine the ways in which music can serve as a vehicle for both expressing grief and creating a sense of enduring connection with the deceased.

Chapter seven then moves to the Middle East, with Sarah Walker's exploration of the emotional, spiritual and social aspects of mourning in Iranian 'elegiac singing'. This is followed by Sally Treloyn's ethnomusicological study of complex role of music in Australian Aboriginal communities, where grief and loss are still felt in the wake of the forced removal of children from their families between the 1880s and 1960s.

Katrina Skewes McFerran and Alexander Crooke turn the discussion towards music therapy, examining the supportive role it can play in the grieving process of young people, while Jane Davidson's closing chapter investigates the phenomenon of 'anticipatory' or 'preparatory' grief – the feelings of loss associated with death before its occurrence – which often occur amongst caregivers for the terminally ill or aged, and the ill or aged themselves.

This collection of fascinating studies will prove useful not only to those interested in the role of music in our lives, but also to those seeking to understand the different ways in which emotional experiences can be shaped, and understood, across time and across cultures.

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CHE Deputy Director Jane Davidson and CHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, Samantha Dieckmann, were awarded a Dissemination Grant ($4,000) by the Victorian Government’s Research Institute on Social Cohesion for Community Harmony for a project entitled ‘Community Harmony through Lullabies’.

The project will promote cross-cultural lullaby sharing to foster positive collective emotional experiences, affirm and celebrate heritage identities, and promote routes to interfaith and intercultural harmony to adult participants. It aims to offer intergenerational, familial interaction and broader community development, fostering greater visibility and leadership capacity for women in Australia's marginalised communities.

Target participants include grandmothers, mothers and grandchildren from culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse backgrounds. Collaborators include John Zika, CEO of Victorian Cooperative on Children's Services for Ethnic Groups (VICSEG Programs for Families, Children and Young People), and New Futures Training. For over 30 years the VICSEG has been a pioneer of innovative and culturally responsive programs to address the migrant settlement needs of young people and their families. The VICSEG Programs for Families, Children and Young People and New Futures Training provide support and training to newly arrived and recently settled migrant communities throughout the northern and western Melbourne regions, much of which is provided to assist women with family day care, aged care, child care, maternal and child health, kindergarten and other integrated family services.

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Susan Broomhall, Australian Research Council Future Fellow and CHE Honorary Chief Investigator, has recently been awarded a UWA Vice-Chancellor's Mid-Career Research Award. Susan has published extensively on gender and materiality in the history of emotions, including two monographs in 2016, with CHE Chief Investigator Jacqueline Van Gent, on the early modern House of Orange-Nassau. She has a special interest in the attachment of emotions to objects, particularly as they are presented in modern museum, heritage and tourism environments. She is currently focusing on emotions and power in the correspondence of Catherine de Medici. This study of the leading female political protagonist of the era will provide new insights into early modern strategies of emotional expression, letter-writing and political power, and a new view of Catherine's own activities.

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Elizabeth Reid has joined CHE (UWA node) as a Project Officer for the Centre’s ‘Zest Festival’ project. Elizabeth recently completed her PhD, titled ‘Fashioning Female Identities: Embodying Learned Values in Renaissance Florence’. The dissertation presented a systematic, broad-scale study of the experience of elite women to reveal the ways in which masculine articulations of cultural values translated into a female rhetoric of embodied morality. Elizabeth has previously worked as a research assistant on several projects, including projects that focused on cross-cultural pedagogy and students’ development of graduate attributes. She has worked as a tutor at Western Sydney University and Macquarie University, teaching units focusing on different aspects of history, literature and social science. She is also a painter and has a degree in Creative Arts.


The deadline for applications for the CHE 2017 Associate Investigator Scheme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researchers (including Arts Practitioners) has been extended to Sunday 2 October 2016. Full details are on our website: http://www.historyofemotions.org.au/get-involved/academic-opportunities/associate-investigators/.


Image: Cross Readings (1800) © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Emotions, Media and History: Theory and Practice
Date: Friday 23 September 2016
Time: 9am–5.30pm
Venue: Napier Building, Room 108, The University of Adelaide
Registration: Registration for this event has closed
Enquiries: Abaigéal Warfield (


Emotions in Legal Practices: Historical and Modern Attitudes Compared
Date: 26–28 September 2016 (commencing with a public lecture on the evening of Monday 26 September by Annalise Acorn, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta, Canada)
Venue: Holme Building Refectory, Science Rd, The University of Sydney, 2006
Symposium organisers:
Merridee Bailey (The University of Adelaide) and Kimberley-Joy Knight (The University of Sydney)
Enquiries: Jacquie Bennett (


On the Edge
20th Annual Work in Progress (WiP) Conference
27–28 September 2016
Venue: The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane
Registration:Register at this link
WIP Conference 2016 by 23 September 2016.


Opera: The Art of Emotions
The Inaugural Conference of the Opera Special Interest Group of the Musicological Society of Australia in association with ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, The Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne
Date: Friday 30 September to Saturday 1 October 2016
Public lecture, Thursday 29 September, 5pm.
Wyselaskie Auditorium, 29 College Crescent, Parkville, Victoria
Bookings: Online


Gender Matters
(preceding the CMEMS/PMRG 'Gender Worlds, 500–1800: New Perspectives' conference at UWA on Saturday 8 October 2016)
Date: Friday 7 October 2016
Time: All Day
Arts Lecture Room 6 (G.62, Ground Floor, Arts Building), UWA
Joanne McEwan (joanne.mcewan@uwa.edu.au)
Registration: Registration for this event is essential. To register, please email
Joanne McEwan.


Game of Thrones! History, Medievalism and How It Might End
Speaker: Professor Carolyne Larrington (University of Oxford)
Date: Monday 17 October 2016
Time: 6–7pm
Venue: Alexander Lecture Theatre (G.57, Ground Floor, Arts Building), The University of Western Australia
Enquiries: Joanne McEwan (

Date: Wednesday 26 October 2016
Time: 5.30–6.30pm
Woolley Common Room (First Floor, John Woolley Building A20), The University of Sydney
Enquiries: Craig Lyons (

Date: Monday 7 November 2016
Time: 12.30-1.30pm
John Medley Building, 4th Floor Linkway, The University of Melbourne

A full list of forthcoming events and further details about individual events can be found on our website.

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