As a semantic reaction against the miserabilism derived from the economic crisis and social instability of the first half of the nineteenth century, joie de vivre surfaced in France. It denotes enjoyment and the ability to recover from calamitous events. In The Insect (1857) by Jules Michelet, joie de vivre constitutes movement and architectural creation, epitomised in the beehive – ‘the veritable Athens of the Insect World’. Yet the sentiment turns ambiguous in La Joie de vivre (1883) by Émile Zola, for whom it is an attitude required not only to face the contradictions of modernity but also to succeed in the capitalist manipulation of nature through architecture. To explore how the built environment manifests emotional experience, this essay follows the trajectory of joie de vivre, from its appearance as an idiomatic amalgamation to other conceptual variations, including élan vital and jouissance.
Hampton, Timothy, Cheerfulness: A Literary and Cultural History (New York: Zone Books, 2022). ISBN: 9781942130604.
This is a valuable addition to the history of emotion – intellectual history division. Timothy Hampton, a comparative literature scholar, traces the rise of references to cheerfulness, and their meanings, from the later Middle Ages through the increasing routinisation of the emotion in Enlightenment and early nineteenth-century characterisations, to its commercialisation in the twentieth-century. Data derive primarily from literature and philosophy, but there are brief and useful references to nineteenth-century advice literature and to several more popular genres in the twentieth-century
What then does ich bin mean? The old word bauen, to which the bin belongs, answers: ich bin, du bist mean: I dwell, you dwell. The way in which you are and I am, the manner in which we humans are on the earth, is Buan, dwelling. To be a human being means to be on the earth as a mortal. It means to dwell.1
Thus, we build. I am not generally given to quoting Heidegger, and it perhaps will not repay the reader too much
I approach this response primarily as an architectural historian, and one, admittedly, who has paid little attention to the idea of emotions in my own writing. This is perhaps not surprising, for as Emre Gönlügür notes in his piece on Yeşilçam film in Turkey, until recently, emotions have received relatively little attention in histories of the built environment. Indeed, the need to present such a collection of essays suggests as much. Having been invited by Sara to read and formulate some kind of response to these essays has made me wonder what I have been missing, and raised the question
Yao, Xine, Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth-century America (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2021). ISBN: 9781478014836
Historians of nineteenth-century emotions are familiar with critiques of universal human sympathy and the way it mobilised and privileged elite white male conceptualisations of civilisation. The rhetoric, politics and emotional practices of this sympathy, characterised by claims to social benevolence whether in religious or evolutionary terms, undergirded colonialism, the political disenfranchisement of women and working-class men, social exclusion from access to education, and eugenics, among other things. What has been much less clear are the historical experiences
This essay examines urban atmospheres and emotions in the 1898 essay collection London Impressions by British writer, poet and suffragist Alice Meynell. I argue atmospheres are spatialised emotions and investigate the atmospheric dimension of Meynell’s text and her impressions, through a vocabulary of immersion and movement. Within her own manipulation of a ‘visual’ vocabulary, Meynell transforms impressions into atmospheres, the visual into sensorial, moving from the painterly to atmospheric experience, notably through the medium of fog and smoke and other climate indicators. I argue urban atmospheres are the main feature the text brings forth (even through – and perhaps especially because of – the filter of the written word). By probing the application of the history of emotions’ methodologies within architectural and urban history, I argue the concept of ‘atmosphere’ is a productive analytical category to examine visual and textual sources.
Novi Chavarria, Elisa, and Philippe Martin, eds, Emozioni e luoghi urbani. Dall’antichità a oggi (Rome: Viella, 2021). ISBN: 9788833139012
The book Emozioni e luoghi urbani consists of twenty-seven essays, divided into three sections of ‘writings’, ‘practices’ and ‘representations’ which are framed by the reflections of the two editors and introduced by an interview with French artist Saype. Formerly a keen graffitist, Saype has come to specialise in the practice of field painting. His impermanent installations, seen more and more frequently in green areas snatched from urban spaces, narrate or evoke the fertile opportunities for
Research on envy across cultures is scarce. Existing studies are predominantly limited to Eurocentric experimental snapshots. As a careful suggestion to diversify methods, samples and theory in envy-related studies, this essay presents a review and an interdisciplinary methodological suggestion to analyse semi-structured interviews of persons with diverse socialisation backgrounds. The essay illustrates that the triggers and objects of envy, its experience, associated expressions and actions, are shaped by socialised emotion norms and feeling rules, emotion socialisation practices, cultural values and social change. The essay concludes that careful qualitative comparisons between different culture socialisation groups in real-life situations and lifeworlds are remarkably absent from interdisciplinary research. This is an epistemological void, considering the significant contributions of ethnography in emotion research.
Chappell, Sophie-Grace, Epiphanies: An Ethics of Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022). ISBN: 9780192858016
The epiphanies explored in this book are, paradigmatically, ‘overwhelming existentially significant manifestations of value in experience, often sudden and surprising, which feed the psyche’ (Sect. 1.1; 220–21). Perhaps the most obvious examples of epiphanies thus understood are intense religious experiences of the life-changing kind. And religious experiences play a central part in Chappell’s exploration of epiphanies; she self-identifies as a ‘Charismatic Anglo-Catholic Christian’ (385). Yet the range of epiphanies extends far beyond the domain of the obviously religious to include aspects of
This essay explores the centrality of emotions in the Turkish experience of urban modernity during the post-war decades. It draws on cinematic representations of a range of social emotions stirred by the urban condition in 1970s Istanbul. Tracing first the relevance of popular melodramas to post-war Turkish social imaginary, the article then proceeds with an analysis of three narrative tropes that shed light on people’s emotional navigation of tensions and conflicts wrought by rapid urban change: the callous factory owner as a figure of collective resentment, the old wooden family home as a place of emotional refuge, and the rhetoric of righteous anger to cultivate feelings of solidarity. Methodologically, the study argues for a greater use of films as a valuable source for emotions history, particularly in connection with the historical study of the built environment.