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Piroska Nagy


What are collective emotions and how should we deal with accounts of them in historical narratives? Addressing these questions through a case study of the movement of the Pataria in Milan (1057−1075), this essay reflects on some mechanisms used to assign collective emotions by authors of medieval narratives. It argues that while individual and collective emotions are not distinct in the Latin vocabulary of eleventh-century texts, the authors still had a clear idea of what we call collective emotions, which they closely linked to political mobilisation and upheaval. Although the assignation of emotions to public actors formed part of a rhetoric of denigration, the essay argues that one cannot understand public emotions in these texts solely as a rhetorical effect within what Ranajit Guha calls ‘the prose of counter-insurgency’.

Erin Sullivan


What role do the arts play in the study of the history of emotions? This essay reflects on the position that aesthetic works and arts-oriented methodologies have occupied in the field’s development since the early 2000s. It begins by connecting artistic sources to anxieties about impressionism within cultural history, before looking at examples from literature that help illustrate the advantages works of art can bring to the study of emotion over time. Chief among these benefits is the power of artistic sources to create emotional worlds for their audiences – including, of course, historians. Ultimately, in arguing for a greater use of aesthetic works in our field, the essay makes the case for a more overtly emotional history of the emotions.