This program deals with mass or communal emotions, in particular mass and communal events which were emotionally driven, but had lasting political and social implications and consequences.

accused heritics

Edouard Moyse, Accused heretics standing before a tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition in Sevilla. © Wellcome Library, London.

Studies in this program rest on the understanding that emotional discourses act as drivers of major cultural, social, political and economic changes. Hence our research investigates how pre-modern governments grappled with the thorny question of how to understand and harness human passions and appetites as the foundation of the ideal state.

Analysis of religious cultures is fundamentally important, not only because religious appeals are centrally informed by the affections, but also because in most past societies (and many present ones) organised religion has shared the management of emotions with the law and the state.

The Change Program re-conceptualises the historiography of emotional 'development' in history, by analysing a variety of pre-modern communal emotional genres - early printed media, legal conventions, religious rituals and practices such as pilgrimages, processions and witchcraft - and their power to produce historical change.

Projects in the Change Program


Program Leader:
Professor David Lemming
s (University of Adelaide)