CALL FOR PAPERS 2023.1: Dossier Medieval Emotions: concepts, methods and theories


“Good mental health is critical to the functioning of society at the best of times”. With these words the United Nations (UN) launched one of its opening notes after the establishment of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was May 13, 2020, and the UN searched to establish policies that should guide actions that could ensure the mental health of populations that were beginning to face the impacts of the new and unknown viral infection. From a historical point of view, the document reveals some important data: the pandemic would have emotional impacts and these impacts would not be restricted to the individual domain. Nearly 700 years ago another pandemic left its mark on a considerable part of the globe. The so-called Bubonic Plague devastated regions from Asia to Europe, leaving stories such as the one written by Boccacccio: “this sore affliction entered so deep into the minds of men and women, that in the horror thereof brother was forsaken by brother, nephew by uncle (…) husband by wife (…) fathers and mothers were found to abandon their own children, untended, unvisited, to their fate”. If in both cases we can notice the concern with the relationship between emotion and social order, the management of emotions (Stearns and Stearns) marks important historical differences: from the mind to the heart; from government to families.
 Attention to emotions is not linked only to extreme contexts such as pandemics. In fact, the human being, his nature, his behavior, but also his passions, have been main subjects of reflection and philosophical speculation for centuries. In the medieval west, an example of this search can be found in theological philosophy, especially from the twelfth century onwards, taking up, in its own way, Neoplatonism and Aristotelianism, which considered on the dialectical relationship between body and mind, reason and affection and other instances. From divine anger to the so-called “courtly love”, through the fear of hell and the supposed monastic sadness, there were many and different ways, not only of thinking about emotions but, above all, of experiencing them. Contrary to a certain common sense of biological bias (which is markedly universalizing, presentist and individualist), there is, therefore, a historical and social horizon intrinsic to emotions (Lindner).

In this sense, it is not by chance that specialists in the study of past temporalities sought, a few decades ago, to include the emotive horizon in their research, developing concepts (Reddy's emotives) and methods (Rosenwein's word lists) in dialogue with new heuristic references (emotional communities, also by Rosenwein) and theoretical references (experience, according to Boddice and Smith) that allow a better understanding of the role of emotions in different human societies, even proposing historical periodizations centered on emotions (Boquet and Nagy's impassioning of Christianity). In fact, critically moving away from a biological and non-historical bias of emotions, social scientists have already demonstrated the inseparable cognitive and cultural dimensions of human emotions (Lutz and White; Coelho and Rezende).

In this context of rich and diverse social studies of emotions, we invite researchers working on the topic to submit articles to the dossier Medieval Emotions: concepts, methods and theories. Contributions about (but not exclusively) are welcome: emotions and social mobilization, emotions and discursive practices, emotional semantics, emotions and experience, bodies and their sensitivities, ways of thinking about emotions, emotional uses of the medieval past.

Submission Deadline: July, 15th, 2023
Proposal Submission to:
Profa. Dra. Ana Paula Lopes Pereira (UERJ)
Prof. Dr. Gabriel Castanho (UFRJ)