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:

27 May 2016

From the UQ Node

The Role of ‘Critique’

One of the things the UQ Node has been pre-occupied with this year, over a series of linked seminars, is the role of ‘critique’ in the academic humanities – that is, the question of how our vocation as scholars relates to, or is indeed prompted by, our political or ethical beliefs or commitments. (These seminars have been led by one of our postdoctoral fellows, Dr Spencer Jackson.)

Increasingly, it could be argued, humanistic study is modelled on a scientific, or at least scientistic, conception of inquiry – the desired outcome is a positivistic, ‘objective’ account of the phenomenon under consideration. But is that really how we work in the humanities? Currently, across the globe, there is an outpouring of interest and fascination with Shakespeare, who died four centuries ago this year. This obsession with Shakespeare hardly seems a very dispassionate affair. Of course, it might be pointed out that Shakespeare is marketable, and that what some critics have dubbed the ‘culture industry’ needs such figures (this industry would invent ‘Shakespeare’ if it didn’t have him). But it is also evidence of the extent to which attachment, affection, commitment and enthusiasm underlie our scholarly activity. This year we at the UQ node are leading a series of events in and around the University to mark the anniversary (similar celebrations of Shakespeare’s achievement are taking place elsewhere in the Centre, for example at UWA and The University of Melbourne). One of our aims with this series has been to explore the kinds of affective attachments that bind us to the artefacts of the cultural past – to its literature, its art, its music – and to demonstrate, to ourselves and to the public, the ways in which institutions like universities, libraries, art galleries, theatre companies – indeed, like CHE – at once shape and critique these attachments.

Peter Holbrook
(Chief Investigator at The University of Queensland)

Treasured Possessions Project Launched in Regional New South Wales

A collection of treasured possessionsBy Kimberley-Joy Knight (CHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Sydney [USyd])

In April
CHE Postdoctoral Fellow, Kimberley-Joy Knight and Education and Outreach Officer Gabriel Watts, from The University of Sydney node, launched ‘Treasured Possessions’, a project that brings together socially isolated seniors in regional New South Wales to reflect on the emotional value of their cherished objects. Blending Dr Knight’s research on emotions and material culture with community development principles, ‘Treasured Possessions’ encourages participants to articulate their life experiences and feelings through objects.

Objects have the power to carry and evoke strong emotions. They have a unique ability to open pathways to the past and elicit feelings such as love, sacrifice, sadness and kindness. Because of the emotional power of objects, people develop strong attachments to possessions. Objects provide us with a meaningful connection to our past and to the past lives of others. With CHE research at its core, the project aims to cultivate emotional literacy and improve emotional intelligence. The affective value invested in personally meaningful objects can be used to address issues associated with isolation and disadvantage. Investigating the emotional attachments between people and their treasured possessions will help to foster lasting connections between community and personal heritage, as well as show how seniors are valuable sources of knowledge and life experience with much to offer Australian communities.

The project, which will run for eight weeks, recently received a
Liveable Communities Grant from the New South Wales government. The program incorporates talks from historians and curators, and also incorporates museum visits, oral histories, memoir writing, filmmaking and photography, culminating in an exhibition of treasured possessions and a memoir book created by the participants. The exhibition will be held at the Wollongong City Art Gallery in August and September 2016. The Wollongong City library will host a preview exhibition in June.

The response to the ‘Treasured Possessions’ project so far has been overwhelming. With each place in the program filled, the participants, aged between 65 and 95, have shown a real enthusiasm and interest in the history of emotions. The participants have listened to talks on material culture, debated key themes in the history of emotions, visited
Meroogal House, and have begun to share their pasts through oral histories. Over the next few weeks, they will learn more about curating and begin to create their own exhibition as well as preparing their memoirs for publication.

Earlier in May 2016, the Wollongong City mayor also recognised the project for its contribution to the community. Hear more about ‘Treasured Possessions’ in Dr Knight’s interview with Patricia Karvelas on
ABC RN Drive, or read more here.

Why Does Shakespeare Matter?

Statue of William ShakespeareBy Xanthe Ashburner (CHE Education and Outreach Officer, The University of Queensland)

On 20 April 2016, Professor Indira Ghose (The University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and a Partner Investigator with CHE) delivered a lecture entitled ‘Shakespeare and Modern Life’ to a large audience at Customs House in Brisbane.

Addressing the question of why, 400 years after his death, Shakespeare still matters, Professor Ghose proposed that we may find an answer in the ways that Shakespeare’s works evince characteristically ‘modern’ modes of thought. The plays tap into the core idea that shapes modern identity: that of the self-determined individual, possessed of a deep inner life and no longer beholden either to the gods or to his or her membership of a community. Touching upon such varied responses to Shakespeare as Aimé Césaire’s Une Tempête (a postcolonial adaptation of The Tempest) and the Netflix series House of Cards (which, like the BBC original, draws upon Macbeth and Richard III), Professor Ghose argued that irony and multiplicity of perspective are central to Shakespeare’s plays, and proposed that this many-sided view is the reason why the works have proved so amenable to appropriation. Following the lecture, Professor Ghose was joined in conversation by Sarah Kanowski, who presents the ‘Books and Arts’ program on ABC Radio National. The evening’s proceedings were recorded by Radio National and broadcast on ‘Books and Arts’, as well as the drive-time show ‘Big Ideas’, over the following week.

Professor Ghose’s lecture served as the launch for ‘The Delighted Spirit: Shakespeare at UQ 2016’, a year-long, cross-disciplinary series of events to take place in and around UQ under the leadership of the UQ node of CHE. The series title is drawn from the complex and troubled play Measure for Measure, where it appears in an impassioned plea by the character Claudio for what he calls ‘worldly life’ – life that, Claudio insists, is always, no matter how blighted by hardship, superior ‘to what we fear of death’. On 23 April 2016, a symposium about ‘Shakespeare on Screen’ took place at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, and a series of film adaptations of Shakespeare’s works were screened at GOMA from 22 April to 25 May. Other events in the series will include a concert of ‘Shakespeare’s Songs’, a Continuing Professional Development seminar on the topic of Shakespeare and music and a symposium on ‘Shakespeare and the Body Politic’ (in collaboration with the UQ Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities).

On Big Ideas
On ‘Books and Arts’ (the conversation between Indira and Sarah Kanowski): http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandarts/

Back to Top

The CHE Bibliography: A Growing Scholarly Resource

Book Cover, Italian (Sienese) Painter, dated c.1343, Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund.
By Stephanie Tarbin (CHE Research Associate, The University of Western Australia)

The CHE Bibliography is a public database of published works – books, book chapters and journal articles – relating to the history of emotions. Launched in 2015, the CHE Bibliography continues to develop as a legacy project of the Centre. As well as providing full publication details and abstracts, each entry is tagged, and also catalogued according to disciplinary focus and period, to create a flexible, searchable scholarly resource.

The CHE Bibliography now includes more than 300 items, providing an insight into the diversity of work relating to the history of emotions. A selection from the last 25 entries includes studies of:
  • ∙ the development of ‘moral emotions’ in early Christian texts from classical concepts of grief and remorse;
  • ∙ medieval music as expressive and emotive;
  • ∙ scholastic writings on the emotions of demons;
  • ∙ medieval and early modern emotional responses to death and dying;
  • ∙ the importance of emotions for cultivating learned piety in the writing of Erasmus;
  • ∙ concepts of ‘passions of the mind’ in seventeenth-century thought and Shakespeare;
  • ∙ emotional strategies, interpretations and responses in early Dutch contacts with Australia;
  • ∙ theological and popular reactions to gender ambiguity in early modern Portugal;
  • ∙ emotional and social contexts of prosecutions for bestiality in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Sweden;
  • ∙ friendship and brotherly love in eighteenth-century Jesuit poetry;
  • ∙ the changing emotional styles of Britons, examined through a series of micro-studies of crying from the fifteenth-century to today.
Researchers interested in crying might follow the tags from the last example (Thomas Dixon’s Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) to locate further studies involving ‘tears’ or ‘weeping’ (18 items each), or to explore related topics such as ‘body/bodily signs of emotion’ (54 items), ‘emotional regulation’ (22 items) and ‘public emotion’ (14 items). Combining category searches (choose ‘Discipline’ or ‘Periods’ first, then select a relevant tag) allows targeted searching.

The database can be accessed at:
https://www.zotero.org/groups/che_bibliography. Recommendations of works for inclusion in the bibliography may be sent to joanne.mcewan@uwa.edu.au or stephanie.tarbin@uwa.edu.au.
Back to Top

New Publication

Cosmographical Novelties in French Renaissance ProseRaphaële Garrod, Cosmographical Novelties in French Renaissance Prose (1550–1630): Dialectic and Discovery, Early European Research 9 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016).

Former CHE Postdoctoral Fellow,
Raphaële Garrod’s recent publication examines the importance of book learning by exploring how cosmological and cosmographical ‘novelties’ were explained and presented in Renaissance texts.

Contemporary historiography holds that it was the practices and technologies underpinning both the Great Voyages and the ‘New Science’, as opposed to traditional book learning, which led to the major epistemic breakthroughs of early modernity. This study discloses the ways in which the reports presented by sailors, astronomers and scientists became not only credible but also deeply disturbing for scholars, preachers and educated laymen in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century France.

Garrod argues that dialectic – the art of argumentation and reasoning – played a crucial role in articulating and popularising new learning about the cosmos by providing the argumentative toolkit needed to define, discard and authorise novelties. The debates that shaped them were not confined to learned circles; rather, they reached a wider audience via early modern vernacular genres such as the essay. Focusing on major figures such as Montaigne and Descartes, as well as on now-forgotten popularisers such as Belleforest and Binet, this book describes the deployment of dialectic as a means of articulating and disseminating, but also of containing, the disturbance generated by cosmological and cosmographical novelties in Renaissance France, whether for the lay reader in court or parliament, for the parishioner at church or for the student in the classroom.

Chapters include: Dialectic and Natural Philosophy: An Early Modern Panorama; Natural Theology and Cosmological Novelties: The Huguenot Encyclopaedia and the Jesuit Miscellany; Cosmological Fictions: Sceptical and Revolutionary Uses of the Loci; Early Modern Cosmography: Definitions and Tensions in Contemporary Scholarship; The Locus from Authority in Cosmography and Geography; and Loci in Cosmography and Geography: Probable Disciplines. Defining Novelties, Inventing National Geographies.

For a full list of our publications click here

Back to Top

New Grants

CHE Chief Investigator Jacqueline Van Gent and Honorary Researcher Kate Gregory were among collaborators who were awarded an ARC Linkage grant ($750,192 over four years) for their project, ‘Collecting the West: How Collections Create Western Australia’. This project is a collaboration between The University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum, the State Library of Western Australia, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the British Museum. The team includes Professor Alistair Paterson; Professor Andrea Witcomb; Adjunct Professor Alec Coles; Professor Jane Lydon; Professor Stephen Hopper; Professor Jenny Gregory; Dr Shino Konishi; Dr Jacqueline Van Gent; Dr Toby Burrows; Dr Tiffany Shellam; Dr Jeremy Hill; Dr Sarah Longair; Dr Gaye Sculthorpe; Dr Kate Gregory; Mr Damien Webb; Ms Corioli Souter; Ms Amy Wegerhoff; Ms Patricia McDonald; Dr Moya Smith; Ms Diana Jones; and Ms Melissa Harpley.

CHE Partner Investigator, Piroska Nagy (University of Quebec Montreal), was awarded a grant of $120,000 for five years by the SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) in Canada. Her research project, 'How to Make an Event? Fervour of Crowds in the Middle Ages (11th-13th Centuries)', aims to study the relation between collective emotions, events and change in the West, Based on the analysis of the rise, around the millennium, of a populous christianus in the historiography of the Middle Ages as an agent of history, the project poses three key questions. They concern: 1) the historiographic elaboration of crowds as agents of history; 2) the textual construction of collective passion, or of emotion-sharing, in medieval sources; 3) the dynamics, changes and functions of emotion-sharing in the sources during the three centuries researched.

What’s New on the Blog?


CHE’s blog is a great way of tapping into our latest research. Each week one of our researchers posts about some of their findings, and the blog often links with our iTunes podcast series. The latest blog posts include:
Writing from the Heart;A Call for Critique; The Emotions of Loss; Early Modern Mothers: In Their Own Words; and An Emotional Celebration: Shakespeare – Past, Present and Future.

Back to Top

Staff News

Former CHE Postdoctoral Fellow based at The University of Melbourne, Giovanni Tarantino FRHS, has been appointed as CHE’s Research Development Officer. He will take up this position in June 2016. Giovanni is also an Honorary Research Fellow at UWA and Reviews Editor for Emotions: History, Culture, Society, a forthcoming journal. After graduating Mlitt (Laurea) in History, he was awarded an MA (Media and Communication) in 2001 and a PhD (Early Modern History) in 2004 by the University of Florence. As a doctoral candidate at the University of Florence, he produced a full study of the highly influential free-thinker and book collector Anthony Collins (1676–1729), who turned to Jewish literature’s classic arguments against the analogical interpretation of Messianic prophecies. His research focus on Collins’s Jewish sources and a book project on the eighteenth-century Sinophile pamphleteer and classical scholar Thomas Gordon (d. 1750) contributed to his election as Hans Kohn member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2008–2009) and as a Resident Fellow of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg at Ruhr University Bochum (2010–2011). The University of Western Australia has also previously welcomed him as a Research Assistant Professor and later as an Honorary Fellow in the School of Humanities. In January 2012 he was appointed as a research fellow on the Balzan prizewinning project ‘A Comparative Approach to Religions: A Historical Perspective, from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries’, led by Professor Carlo Ginzburg at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa. He is also engaged in broader historiographical activities, working as co-editor for the on-line academic journal Cromohs: Cyber Review of Modern Historiography.

Emma Miller has been appointed as CHE Media and Communications Officer at The University of Melbourne. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) from RMIT, and has more than 20 years of experience working in media as a journalist/reporter, editor, sub-editor and communications professional. She has expertise in both publicity and content creation.

Selected Forthcoming Events

Birkbeck research workshop

Symposium:Chaucer as Translator/ Translating Chaucer
Speakers: Candace Barrington, Michael Barbezat, Clare Davidson and Paul Megna
Date: Tuesday 7 June 2016
Time: 1–4pm
Venue: Philippa Maddern Seminar Room 1.33, First Floor Arts, The University of Western Australia
Registration: This symposium is open to all interested parties, but places are limited. Please register your interest with Pam Bond:

Panel Discussion: ‘
The Social Contract: Photography, Theory, Practice and Emotions
Date: Thursday 9 June 2016
Time: 6–8pm
Venue: Centre for Contemporary Photography, 404 George Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, VIC 3065
Booking: Gold coin donation, no booking required.
Further information: +61 3 9417 1549,
Centre for Contemporary Photography.

Continuing Professional Development Seminar: ‘Not Only Musical In Himself…’
Date: Monday 13 June 2016
Time: 4.30pm, with afternoon tea from 4pm
Venue: Room 275, Global Change Institute (Building 20), The University of Queensland, St Lucia
RSVP: This is a free event, but RSVPs are essential:

Workshop: ‘
The Distinction Between Passion and Emotion – in Search of Case Studies
Speakers: Louis Charland, Kirk Essary, Sally Holloway, Danijela Kambaskovic and Bob White
Date: Friday 17 June 2016
Time: 2–5 pm
Venue: Philippa Maddern Seminar Room 1.33, First Floor Arts, The University of Western Australia
Registration: This symposium is open to interested parties, but places are limited. Please register your interest with Pam Bond:

Romantic Rituals: ‘Making Love’ in Europe c.1100–1800
Date: 4 July 2016
Venue: The University of Adelaide
Register: To register, please email Katie Barclay (
katie.barclay@adelaide.edu.au) by 25 June 2016. Please provide a name, affiliation (if appropriate) and any catering or access requirements. Please also confirm whether you will attend the conference dinner. Attendance at this event is free, but the conference dinner is at the cost of participants.
Contact: Katie Barclay (
katie.barclay@adelaide.edu.au) and Sally Holloway (sally.holloway@richmond.ac.uk).

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

Berlin Conference

Back to Top

Not interested anymore? Unsubscribe
Newsletter Feedback: emotions@uwa.edu.au

Email not displaying correctly?
View email in browser