Passions for Learning

This project explores the role of the emotions in European education and knowledge cultures, 1100-1800. How were the emotions harnessed in teaching by medieval and early modern educators? How did the emotional experience of the schoolchild/ intellectual/ scientist evolve over this long time period, and how were the emotions perceived at different times to impact upon, hinder, or perhaps even to further intellectual work?

Passions for Learning

Liber ethicorum des Henricus de Alemannia by Laurentius de Volotina. Second half of the 14th century. Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin

Kirk Essary is working on the role of affection in religious knowledge in 16th century thought, with a focus on the Christian humanists of northern Europe and their conception of a ‘Christian philosophy'. Chief Investigators Yasmin Haskell and Juanita Ruys are working together on a book comprising case studies of selected medieval and early modern educators, scholars and scientists. Emotions to be explored include fear/ anxiety (in the classroom and beyond), hubris/pride, envy, rivalry/ aemulatio, sadness (melancholy), love/ friendship (piety towards teachers and friendships between colleagues). In a separate but complementary strand of the project, Associate Investigator Richard Yeo will tease out the role played by emotions in the dynamic transformation of knowledge cultures from the Renaissance through to 1900, investigating their changing ethos and identity from encyclopedism to tiny specialisms. This shift has been seen as central to the progress of scientific knowledge – what assumptions about self, identity, emotional-versus-intellectual balance, and range of appropriate interests were involved?


Y. Haskell with J. Ruys, M. Champion and R. Garrod, ‘But Were They Talking about Emotions? Affectus, affectio and the History of Emotions’, commissioned article for special issue of Rivista Storica Italiana (forthcoming).

Y. Haskell, '"Physician heal thyself!" Emotions and the Health of the Learned in Samuel Auguste André Tissot (1728-1797) and Gerard Nicolaas Heerkens (1726-1801), in Henry Martyn Lloyd (ed.), The Discourse of Sensibility: The Knowing Body in the Enlightenment (Springer, 2013), pp. 105-24.

Y. Haskell, Prescribing Ovid: The Latin Works and Networks of the Enlightened Dr Heerkens [London: Bloomsbury, 2013], ISBN: 978-0-7156-37234.

Y. Haskell (Ed.),  Diseases of the Imagination and Imaginary Disease in the Early Modern Period [Turnhout: Brepols, 2012], ISBN: 978-2-503-52796-3.

Y. Haskell, ‘When is a Disease Not a Disease? Seeming and Suffering in Early Modern Europe’, Introduction to Diseases of the Imagination and Imaginary Disease in the Early Modern Period, (Ed.) Y. Haskell [Turnhout: Brepols, 2011], pp. 1-17.

Y. Haskell, ‘The Anatomy of Hypochondria: Malachias Geiger's Microcosmus
Hypochondriacus (Munich, 1652)', in Diseases of the Imagination and Imaginary Disease in the Early Modern Period [Turnhout: Brepols, 2012], pp.271-295.

K. Essary, “‘Milk for Babes’: Erasmus and Calvin on the Problem of Christian Eloquence,” in Reformation and Renaissance Review 16:3 (2014)

K. Essary, “Calvin’s Interpretation of Christ’s Agony at Gethsemane: An Erasmian Reading?” in Toronto Journal of Theology 29:1 (Spring, 2014)

Richard Yeo, "Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science" (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, in press due January 2014). ISBN-13: 978-0-226-10656-4 (cloth); and ISBN-13: 978-0-226-10673-1 (e-book)

Papers delivered

Y. Haskell and J Ruys: (Taiwan Association for Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies’) 7th annual conference in October 2013 on ‘Passions for Learning: Forms of Knowledge, Forms of Acquisition.’

J. Ruys: AEMA (Australian Early Medieval Association) Conference in February 2014 on the theme ‘Love and Trauma: The Emotional Classroom from Late Antiquity to the High Middle Ages’.

J. Ruys: (Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research) conference in June 2014 on the theme ‘Emotional Intelligence and Advice from Premodern Parents to their Children’

Y. Haskell, invited paper to History and Philosophy of Science, CalTech (Pasadena), June 2015, on ‘Passions for Learning in Early Modern Scientific Poetry’

Y. Haskell, invited 39th Erasmus Birthday Lecture, Royal Academy of the Netherlands, November 2018, on 'Erasmus and the Health of Scholars: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual'

Y. Haskell, masterclass, Royal Academy of the Netherlands, November 2018, on 'Passions for and of Learning in the Early Modern Period'