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Amy Milka

This article considers the performance of gentility by criminals and impostors during the eighteenth century, arguing that a genteel appearance and behaviour not only facilitated crime, but allowed the accused criminal to access sympathy in the courtroom arena. Gentility comprised a set of polite mannerisms, gestures and appearances, but also required the performance of particular emotions. The performance of ‘genteel’ emotions could bring together a socially disparate group united by a shared valuation of sympathies, feelings and values. Those who claimed gentility in the eighteenth century expressed a concern for personal and public honour, a fear of shame and the desire to be viewed as someone possessing particularly refined emotional capacities such as sensibility and sympathy. Moreover, a successful claim to gentility could secure preferential treatment even for an impostor of a doubtful background and dubious character.

Jane W. Davidson, Frederic Kiernan and Sandra Garrido

This essay addresses the challenges of reaching a historically informed understanding of the emotional experience of seventeenth-century musical performance by applying a recent theoretical account of the psychological emotion mechanisms that underpin music perception. A short work by Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) is taken as a case study, to investigate the ways that structural elements of the music engage emotion mechanisms. Since modern-day listeners also draw on emotion mechanisms, a modern-day exploration of behavioural responses to the historical work – albeit performed and perceived through different personal experiences and perhaps with different emphases according to the many different social-cultural factors influencing modern perception – enables the identification of which mechanisms are activated in modern perceivers. While the authors acknowledge that emotional responses to music are highly susceptible to a whole range of complex and dynamic socio-cultural experiences and different historical contexts, the research undertaken nonetheless enables the development of some parameters on which to build a modern-day performance that emphasises the mechanisms most likely to arouse affect.

Katie Barclay

This introduction to the special issue on ‘Emotions and Change’ introduces the main theories of the role of emotion in processes of social and political change, as well as how emotion is theorised to change over time. It introduces the articles within this issue as part of this literature, highlighting how they contribute and extend the field, notably in their discussion of ambivalence and stasis as part of movement.

Erika Bondi

This article analyses the role of emotions in the formation of militant groups as represented in the novel Monte de Venus (1976) by Reina Roffé. It draws comparisons between the novel’s backdrop of Argentina’s militant movements of the 1960s and ’70s and the actual militancy in the country from that time period. This approach to emotions in literature focuses on the fictionalisation of character emotions and its role in the production of the overall tone of the novel. An important aspect of the study is the genre of the militant literature in Argentina in the mid-twentieth century and its aesthetic and ideological norms.