Interdisciplinary Approaches to Emotion in Early Modern England: A Proposed NEH Seminar and Collection

Fellow Project Academic Year

This collaborative Fellows project explores the ways emotions were lived and understood in Early Modern England. Both scholars in this team are working on research projects that draw upon the insights of the "affective turn" in the humanities and social sciences to elucidate the ways affects can be focal points for creating, sustaining and dissolving social ties within communities. Whether within explicitly political communities--like the Tudor court, which, Irish argues, constituted itself and circulated around such affective notions as disgust, dread and hope--or casual communities of friendship or desire--established, Fox argues, to promote as well as regulate happiness and communal wellbeing--Early Modern emotions can be focal points for uncovering not just the history of emotions, but the history of lived experience.

In our year as IHR Fellows, we will continue to pursue independent research on two book projects on affect in Early Modern England while working to facilitate an NEH Summer Seminar on "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Emotion in Early Modern England." From this seminar, we will also produce a collection of essays that will be the first of its kind in our field. We will draw together those working in the disciplines of English, History, Art History, Law, Philosophy and the History of Science, and the seminar and book will push beyond traditional categories and methodologies of literary and cultural studies--which have focused primarily on discrete emotions such as melancholy and shame--to address the larger cultural questions of how political and social values are attached to various emotions and how emotional regimes can be key points of focus for researchers interested in uncovering the experience of everyday life in cultures of the past.

Fellow Project Principal Investigator
Cora Fox, Associate Professor, Department of English
Bradley J. Irish, Assistant Professor, Department of English