April 2018

11 April 2018

From the UWA node

Paul GibbardBy Paul Gibbard (Chief Investigator, The University of Western Australia)

Whenever a researcher enters a new field of study, it is almost inevitable that the novel ideas they encounter will swarm out and infect their perspective on previous areas of interest.

This has been my experience of venturing into the history of the emotions since I became involved with CHE. My initial research projects with the Centre focused on the relations between sensibility and empiricism in the journals and letters of a French botanist, Théodore Leschenault de la Tour, who came to Australia with the Baudin expedition of 1800–1804. Leschenault worked in a period before modern notions of scientific objectivity had fully taken hold, and I was looking at the way in which a naturalist might count an emotional response to a phenomenon as a valid form of knowledge. So far, so good.

While working on Leschenault’s writings I was also trying to complete another, apparently unrelated, project: a translation of Emile Zola’s novel The Dream (1888) for the Oxford World’s Classic series. The Dream is one of the 20 novels which make up Zola’s celebrated Rougon-Macquart cycle (which includes Germinal and L’Assommoir), the complete set of which is being issued in English translation for the first time by Oxford University Press. The Dream is a highly unusual novel within this series. It is not one of Zola’s typically grimy realist novels but rather a sort of romantic idyll. Zola was deliberately writing against type, after his previous novel Earth (1887) had been condemned by critics as obscene. Because of its unusual content,The Dream has been somewhat neglected by modern scholars. However, it is in this sort of less typical work that an author may reveal some of the most interesting things about his or her methods and preoccupations, and in this instance the novel has much to say about Zola’s theory of the emotions.

The central character in The Dream is a homeless girl named Angélique who is taken in by a middle-aged couple working as embroiderers. Initially given to anger, hatred and disobedience, Angélique becomes a skilled embroideress under their guidance, all the while creating around herself a sort of mystical world, and she eventually falls in love with a young nobleman. The arc of the story traces Angélique’s mastery of her passions, as she changes from a vicious creature into a dreamy young woman who finally conforms to the wishes of her elders. Were it not for my earlier work on emotions, this question might not have immediately posed itself: how exactly does Zola conceive of anger and understand how it functions? In fact, as the novel suggests and further research has made clear, Zola understood the emotions through the lens of existing scientific theories of heredity and degeneration. Zola had learned from works of medical science that emotional dispositions were transmissible from parent to child in the same way that moral flaws, criminal tendencies and physical traits were thought to be transmitted. Angélique inherits her disposition towards anger from a degenerate mother, but is transformed by the benign environment in which she is raised. In my introduction to The Dream, which will appear in September 2018, I try to explain to the general reader how Zola’s understanding of the emotions has a particularly nineteenth-century flavour – even if modern epigeneticists are revisiting some of these same ideas.

As you’ll see when exploring the rest of the newsletter, my experience as a researcher in the Centre is not an anomaly, but is echoed by others. Whether it is researching devotion, objects and emotion; vision and opticality in the humanities and neuroscience; the voices of women; or children’s literature, the history of emotions drives us to look farther and wider and take the humanities to new frontiers.

Emotions: History, Culture, Society Joins Major Publisher

Emotions: History, Culture, Society (EHCS) is the bi-annual international refereed journal of the Society for the History of Emotions (SHE). The Society was founded in 2016, as an initiative of CHE. EHCS commenced publication in 2017.

From the next issue, 2.1 (June 2018), EHCS will be published by Dutch firm Brill, based in Leiden. Brill, founded in 1683, is one of the oldest European publishing houses, with 275 journals on its list. EHCS will join the Brill Online Journal Collection for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which is widely available to institutions.

Moving to Brill offers EHCS and SHE many benefits: long-term financial stability and an income stream to support SHE activities; increased profile and publicity; and continuing professional management of all areas of production and marketing. The editors retain full responsibility for the journal’s content.

Most importantly, the new arrangement makes EHCS – both as complete issues and individual articles – accessible to institutional subscribers through Brill’s online platform, with meta-tagging and full text search capacity. It will also facilitate detailed indexing by major library discovery services such as Scopus, Web of Science, EBSCO, Google Scholar and others.

EHCS is a new presence in emotions studies, but has behind it the extensive interdisciplinary experience and international connections of CHE. In a fast-growing field, that provenance gives it a unique character, opening it to a broad range of contributions from the humanities and social sciences, across disciplines, regions and historical periods. In the first two issues alone, articles covered five centuries and six disciplines – history, political science, sociology, literature, environmental studies and music.

Along with the success of the first SHE conference in December 2017, the flourishing ‘Entangled Histories of Emotions in the Mediterranean World’ seminar series, and the enthusiastic take-up of the SHE International Reading Group on Loomio, EHCS’s partnership with Brill highlights the value of SHE membership. SHE subscriptions for 2018, including discounted access to the journal, are available
here. Enquiries about SHE can be directed to societyhistoryemotions@gmail.com

Image: Anton Wierix II, Jesus pierces with arrows the whole outer surface of the heart, plate 3 from the Cor Jesu amanti sacrum (The heart dedicated to the loving Jesus) series, late 16th to early 17th century, engraving. ©National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1923 (1278.328-3).Devotion, Objects and Emotions, 1300‒1700

By Julie Davies (CHE Research Assistant, The University of Melbourne)

The ‘
Devotion, Objects and Emotions, 1300‒1700’ symposium, convened by Charles Zika, Claire Walker, Julie Hotchin and Lisa Beaven, took place at The University of Melbourne (UMelb) on 16 and 17 March 2018. This symposium focused on the relationships between religious devotion, objects and emotion in Europe and brought together a diverse group of scholars who used devotional practices and objects as a rich vantage point from which to explore the fundamental and multifarious role of emotions in individual and collective lives.

Denise Varney, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at UMelb, opened the symposium by acknowledging the work of CHE in helping to establish the history of emotions as a discipline and enriching the academic community by bringing together excellent scholars with a broad range of expertise – a tradition that this symposium continued to uphold. The topic of papers ranged widely from devotional rituals within early modern convents (Claire Walker), to the religious displays of a Catholic queen in Protestant England (Erin Griffey) and the emotional impact of religious iconography in sixteenth-century wonder books (Jenny Spinks).

As discussants Lisa Beaven and Jenny Spinks observed, the symposium stretched the participants’ preconceived notions about the concept of devotion, what one might consider a devotional object and the range of possible emotional relationships that could, and indeed did, bind these two elements of religious experience together.

The role of artworks in reflecting and inspiring devotional experiences was a recurring theme throughout the two days, with intriguing revelations about people’s interactions with religious images, whether two or three dimensional in nature (Kathryn Rudy, Patricia Simons, Anna Welch).

Another emerging theme was the importance of devotional settings. For example, it was argued that terrifying experiences at sea or participation in ritualised feasts facilitated the consolidation of devotional and emotional communities (Ulrike Strasser, Jacqueline Van Gent).

Discussions also highlighted how seemingly simple, everyday objects such as shoes, mirrors and marzipan hearts could become imbued with devotional and emotional meaning as readily as traditional religious objects such as paxes, rosary beads or items bearing Marian imagery (Catherine Kovesi, Johanna Scheel, Claire Walker, Charles Zika, Matthew Martin). Even the light in devotional environments was at times ritually manipulated to produce emotional effects (Sarah Randles).

The power of devotional rituals – and the emotional states elicited by them – to imbue potentially miraculous properties into objects was also noted, particularly in relation to relics and ecclesiastical rituals, but also in relation to the medicinal and supernatural powers attributed to the body parts of executed criminals (Una McIlvenna).

Beyond the ways in which devotional objects were used to enhance rituals and practices, the symposium primarily revealed how interactions with devotional objects forged emotional connections between participants through their shared experiences, and enabled them to connect with religious figures by emotionally re-enacting Christian narratives.

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Image: Anne Noble, Dead Bee Portrait # 14, 2016, No Vertical Song and Reverie, Bundanon Trust Collection. Courtesy of the artist.Vision and Opticality: The Humanities and Neuroscience

By Sushma Griffin (CHE Project Officer, The University of Queensland)

In March 2018, scientists, visual artists and humanities scholars came together in Brisbane for a cross-disciplinary public forum and Continuing Professional Development seminar, titled
‘Vision and Opticality: The Humanities and Neuroscience’, to explore the ways in which art and science understand vision and opticality.

This collaboration between the CHE node and the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at The University of Queensland (UQ) attempted to reanimate the conversation between the ‘two cultures’ of the humanities and the sciences. The seminar addressed a variety of issues including: affect and photographic meaning; painting by people struggling with schizophrenia; the relationship between imaging technologies and natural biological systems; and the phenomenon of compound vision in bees.

Sushma Griffin (UQ) discussed the revolutionary opticality of nineteenth-century photography and the ways in which affect shapes photographic meaning. She illustrated her talk with nineteenth-century architectural photographs of India to highlight the dynamics of control and coercion propagated in state-sponsored documentation. Inspired by Margaret Cavendish’s poem, ‘Of Many Worlds in this World’ (1653), visual artist Trish Adams examined the ways in which hitherto hidden worlds, both internal and external, have been revealed by the new visual technology of electron microscopy. By using time-lapse digital video technology, Adams scrutinises the cellular processes underpinning the transformation of adult stem cells into live, rhythmic cardiac cells. Concerned to promote greater empathy for, and understanding of, serious mental disorders, psychiatrist and neuroscientist John McGrath (QBI) shared the personal stories behind some of the artworks in the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) collection. All of these paintings were created by people living with mental illness.

In the second session, visual artist and academic Anne Noble (Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University) discussed her recent experimentations with photography, which develop new analogies and metaphors for considering the fragile nature of natural biological systems. Anne spoke passionately about the discoveries and creative possibilities that can emerge from art-science collaborations. Neurophysicist Srini Srinivasan (QBI) contributed a stimulating presentation about different facets of insect compound vision. He explained how insects use information from the moving image to acquire a three-dimensional perception of the world, so as to navigate safely and accurately through it. His laboratory translates biological strategies from bees into novel algorithms which are then used for aircraft guidance.

The seminar provided a new direction for CHE’s education and outreach activities at UQ by engaging with teachers from science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. The lively audience discussion that followed presentations reflected the strength of public and teacher interest in the synergies that develop when art and science combine to inspire and create new knowledge.

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2017 CHE Annual ReportCHE Annual Report 2017

The 2017 Annual Report is now available for download. Click here to view it.

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The Voices of Women at the Melbourne Recital Centre

Image: Gamba Player by Bernardo Strozzi, c.1635, believed to be of musician and composer Barbara Strozzi. Source: Wikimedia CommonsBy Emma Miller (Communications and Media Officer, The University of Melbourne)

Audiences caught a rare glimpse into the world of three baroque female composers at a concert sponsored by CHE’s Melbourne node in March 2018.

Australia’s renowned Ludovico’s Band teamed up with composer and soprano Helen Thomson to perform
The Voices of Women at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

The performance featured works by Isabella Leonarda, Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi, who were all active in Italy in the seventeenth century, and who enjoyed varying degrees of success during their lifetimes.

CHE Deputy Director and leader of the Performance Program Jane Davidson, along with Postdoctoral Research Fellow Amanda Krause, used the concert to extend their ongoing research project, which conducts surveys to explore the emotional engagement of audience members with the music.

“We want to find out how present-day audiences in Melbourne respond emotionally to the music of these female baroque composers, and situate these responses within a longer history of emotional engagement with the music of women composers in the Western tradition,” Jane said.

She explained that Leonarda, Caccini and Strozzi wrote vocal music of great quality and quantity, which was incredibly rare at a time when women composers were uncommon or unwelcome.

“Strozzi in particular was a prolific composer in Venice in the mid-1600s, but because of the way music history has been written she has not received the recognition she deserves,” she said.

here to listen to a podcast about The Voices of Women featuring Jane Davidson in conversation with virtuoso harpist Marshall McGuire, of Ludovico’s Band.

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The New Fortune Theatre book coverShakespeare-Inspired Garden Takes Shape

A Shakespeare-inspired niche garden is taking shape in the space behind the New Fortune Theatre at The University of Western Australia (UWA).

A selection of plants mentioned by Shakespeare will be planted and identified by quotation boards. This forms part of a CHE initiative to create a lasting, material legacy of the Centre at the host institution. “It will complement other themed gardens based on historical knowledge at UWA, such as the one beside the Geology and Geography building, which displays examples of flora from the Jurassic and Eocene periods,” explained Shakespeare specialist and CHE Chief Investigator Bob White.

Shakespeare gardens are common in the USA, for example at the Huntington Library and in New York Central Park, but this more modest version may be the first in Australia. An opening
event planned for 9 May 2018 from 5.30-7pm will coincide with the launch of a new CHE book, The New Fortune Theatre: That Vast Open Stage, which has been edited by Ciara Rawnsley and Bob White and will be published by UWA Publishing in 2018.

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Adobe Stock image of book pages folded in a heart shapeEmotional Discourses in Children’s Literature

By Paul Megna (CHE Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Western Australia)

On 3 and 4 April 2018, CHE co-sponsored a symposium on ‘
Emotional Discourses in Children’s Literature’. The event featured a wide range of papers on the emotional dynamics of children’s literature.

Speakers addressed a wide range of topics, with papers by Ned Curthoys (UWA) on the complex and intense emotions surrounding children’s literature set during the Holocaust, Melissa Raine (UMelb) on representations of disability in contemporary Australian children’s literature, Ika Willis (University of Wollongong) on emotion and family in the work of Diana Wynne Jones, Andrew Lynch (UWA) on medievalist children’s literature written in the nineteenth century, Andrea Gaynor and Susan Broomhall (UWA) on representations of frogs in children’s literature; as well as two papers on adaptations of adult literature for children: Duc Dau on children’s bibles, and Marina Gerzic on adaptations of Shakespeare’s Richard III. You can read more about Marina’s Richard III project in a blog post

Some papers were pre-circulated prior to the symposium, giving participants ample time (45 minutes) for discussion. For example, Kimberley Reynolds (Newcastle University, UK) offered a fascinating paper on the magical realist fiction of David Almond. She is currently involved in an AHRC project that will create an augmented reality application to map the real-world corollaries of Almond’s fictional Newcastle, and symposium participants engaged in a riveting discussion of how such an app might accentuate and/or alter readers’ emotional relationships with Almond’s fiction.

At the close of the symposium’s first day, Kimberley also delivered a stellar public lecture titled ‘Reading for Little Rebels: Internationalism and Radical Writing for Children’, in which she explored leftist children’s literature from the mid-twentieth century, as well as the current resurgence of radical children’s literature today. Click
here to read Kimberley’s blog post on this topic.

The symposium closed with a second public lecture by children’s author and editor Deb Fitzpatrick, titled ‘The Writer’s Balancing Act: Engaging Young Readers’, which discussed the challenging task of composing children’s literature from a practical perspective.

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Farewell to Postdoctoral Research Fellows

In March we farewelled Postdoctoral Research Fellows Umberto Grassi (The University of Sydney) and Carly Osborn (The University of Adelaide). We asked them to reflect on their time with CHE.

Umberto GrassiUmberto Grassi

The University of Sydney

During my time with CHE, one of the things I found most fascinating and instructive was the commitment of the Centre to education and outreach. It was stunning for me to see how high-profile research could work hand in hand with talking to a wider public, and I acquired stimulating insights about how to communicate the results of my research in forms other than the traditional academic lecture. In particular, I was inspired by the possibilities that could emerge from interactions between contemporary performative art and historical research. This is something that I look forward to pursuing in the future, as I begin new partnerships with institutions and researchers in both Europe and North America.

The intersection of my research – which focuses on sexual transgressions, in particular sodomy, in the early modern world – with the history of emotions is relatively new. Much of my time was spent researching heretical reinterpretations of the dogma of original sin in early modern Italy. I was fascinated and moved by the lives of people who questioned both the narrow-mindedness of the Church on the matter of sexual morality, and the idea that eternal salvation was possible only within Catholicism. By denouncing the inconsistency of the teaching of the Church about the Fall from Grace, these writers defended sexual freedom and argued that eternal salvation was accessible not only for people belonging to religious traditions (including Muslims and Jews), but also for atheists and unbelievers.

Among my publications, of particular relevance to my research project are a book chapter,‘Il frutto proibito. Eresia, emozioni e peccato originale nell’Italia moderna’ (in “Infami macchie”. Sessualità maschili e indisciplina fra XVII e XVIII secolo, edited by Fernanda Alfieri e Vincenzo Lagioia [Roma, Viella, 2018]) and a forthcoming article, ‘Sex and Toleration: New Perspectives of Research on Religious Radical Dissent in Early Modern Italy’ (in Intellectual History Review, 2019). I have also submitted a monograph, which is currently under review, on sodomy and homosexuality that combines a history of crime and a social history of emotions from late antiquity to the nineteenth century.

I hope that my forthcoming publications will contribute to the dialogue between gay, lesbian, transgender and queer studies and the history of emotions, a field that is as intellectually promising as it is methodologically challenging. Furthermore, my cross-cultural analysis advances the study of relationships between religious identities and emotions in the context of cultural miscegenation and hybridity.

I was recently awarded an EU Marie Curie Fellowship for a project titled ‘SPACES’ (Sex, disPlacements, And Cultural EncounterS), which I will begin in September 2018. The fellowship includes three years of research support – two at a university outside the European Union and one at a European institution. My host institution is The University of Verona, specifically its PoliTeSse research centre. The partner institution for the non-European phase will be the University of Maryland in the USA. This is where I will be heading next, and I’m very much looking forward to the new opportunities this fellowship will offer.

Carly OsbornCarly Osborn

The University of Adelaide

There are so many highlights from my time at CHE, but I mostly enjoyed the Centre-wide conferences and meetings I was able to attend. It was great to be a part of a world-class research community, with everything that entails: fascinating discussion, provocative critique, camaraderie and encouragement. Being able to engage with so many colleagues face-to-face at these events concentrated that into some of the richest times of my professional and personal life.

I have always focused on outreach and impact, and pairing my postdoctoral research with my continuing role as an Education and Outreach Officer meant that I could channel my expertise as a researcher into amazing engagement projects – notably The Vault, a virtual reality game based on academic research in the history of emotions (which will be launched mid-2018).

I co-edited a Bloomsbury
collection on religion and violence during my fellowship. I was the only emotions scholar involved and it was rewarding to be able to bring the history of emotions to the interdisciplinary table.I also wrote a tiny picture book that summarises Girardian theory.

My immediate future involves working a non-academic job while finishing my first monograph (under contract with Bloomsbury), editing two more collections, and writing several articles and chapters – all in the evening hours after the toddler goes to sleep! If all goes well I hope to begin working on a major project in 2019 concerning the impact of the humanities on wellbeing, with a focus on gender, violence and ritual. I am also pursuing Linkage grants, private partnerships and international funding.

If I cannot secure a post in academia I will likely seek work in the education sector, which is my background. Academia is what I do best, and how I think I can best contribute to society. I feel self-conscious being so blunt about it, but I think we must, as academic mothers especially, make ourselves visible and talk about our dilemmas.

Through my research I hope to bring to the fore an awareness that ritual violence is still among us; that women’s bodies are still contested emotional sites; that personhood is still an embodied experience; and that the humanities can help us understand all of this, and ourselves. I hope to keep following my curiosity, making a contribution, and communicating our findings to the wider world.

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Congratulations to Jade Riddle, who was awarded the 2018 Bill Cowan Barr Smith Library Fellowship. The project is an extension of her PhD research, and will investigate representations of Adelaide in the mid-nineteenth century in personal letters home to Britain and Germany. It will compare these with ‘official’ representations of the city by the South Australian Company, who were actively encouraging people to move there.

Congratulations to
Emma Hutchison (Associate Investigator, UQ), who has been awarded the ISA Theory Section’s Book Award for her Affective Communities in World Politics(Cambridge University Press, 2016):
http://www.isa-theory.org/2018/03/22/2017-isa-theory-section-book-and-paper-awards/ …

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Staff News

In April the Melbourne node bade a fond farewell to Jessie Scott, who’s been our Research Administrator since our first beginnings in 2011. Jessie helped us establish ourselves as a unit working across two different schools in the Faculty of Arts, and later involving the Faculty of Music and the VCA as well. In her work for CHE, Jessie always combined practical common sense and efficiency with a warm sense of social equity. Jessie is also a multi-talented visual and media artist, and over the course of her fractional appointment with CHE, maintained her own creative practice, developed a teaching career at RMIT University, and had her first child, Genevieve. Jessie’s technical expertise was invaluable to the node; and she and Penelope Lee established CHE’s series of Vimeo interviews with visiting scholars. Jessie leaves us now to prepare for the birth of her second child, but also, later in 2018, to commence her PhD studies, with the support of a Vice-Chancellor’s fellowship, at RMIT. She will be much missed by CHE, but we wish her all the best for the future.

Perth node will also farewell Project Officer Ciara Rawnsley this week. Ciara leaves us to take up a position with video production company, Wild Vista.

Selected Forthcoming Events

Electro Face

Skin Deep: Reading Emotion on Early Modern Bodies
A public lecture by Evelyn Welch
Date: Wednesday 11 April 2018
Time: 6–7.15pm
Lowe Theatre, Redmond Barry Building, The University of Melbourne, Parkville

Emotions in a Miracle of St Rose: An Italian Eighteenth-Century Notarial Source
A seminar by Sarah Tiboni
Date: Thursday 12 April 2018
Time: 12–1pm
Venue: Collaborative Learning Studio, Room 2.31, Second Floor,
Arts Building, The University of Western Australia
Registration and enquiries: RSVP requested to
emotions@uwa.edu.au. This is a free event. All welcome.

Preferring Death: Love, Crime and Suicide in Eighteenth-Century England
A seminar by Amy Milka
Date: Monday 16 April 2018
Time: 12‒1pm
Venue: Stretton Room, Napier 420, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide
RSVP and enquiries: Jacquie Bennett (

Entangled Histories of Gender in the Medieval Mediterranean World
Date: Saturday 5 May 2018
Time: 9am–5.30pm
Venue: Terrace Room, Sir Llew Edwards Building,The University of Queensland
Convenors: Megan Cassidy-Welch and Giovanni Tarantino
FREE EVENT, but RSVP requested by Friday 20 April for catering purposes
Contact: Megan Cassidy-Welch (

From Melancholy to Euphoria: The Materialisation of Emotion in Middle Eastern Manuscripts
Date: Tuesday 26 to Wednesday 27 June 2018
Venue: The University of Melbourne
Enquiries: Sophie Lewincamp (email:
Registration: Click here
Further details: see the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation website

A full list of forthcoming events and further details about individual events can be found on our website.

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