Directors' Welcome

Welcome to the website of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE). Our mission is to provide leadership in worldwide humanities research into how societies have understood, experienced, expressed and performed emotions in pre-modern Europe, and how this long history impacts on contemporary Australia.


From 2011–2018, with a seven-year grant from the Australian Research Council,  CHE established itself as a leading contributor to a fast-growing international research field. We pursued our core questions within four main research programs: Meanings, Change, Performance and Shaping the Modern. Vibrant research clusters formed across programs, bringing together scholars from around Australia and internationally to investigate new questions, and individual and collaborative research continues to expand in these programs and beyond.

We have created and fostered links between a team of pre-eminent Australian humanities researchers, a network of international experts and institutions, and a broad set of industry partners, including performing arts institutions, art galleries and media organisations. We have developed innovative ways to relate and connect different research methods, as well as to maximise fruitful synergies between different disciplines. We continue to provide a stimulating environment and specialist training for postgraduates and early career researchers as part of our mission to foster the next generation of humanities researchers in Australia. 

We presented highly popular education and public outreach activities. Through them we recovered the history of emotions from Europe 1100–1800, and shared it with the wider Australian public, including over 7,000 high school students and teachers, to enrich our personal lives and revitalise our culture. We also undertook research on audience emotions through musical, operatic and theatrical events that utilise our understandings of historically informed performance practices from the past.

From 2011–2018, the Centre funded the research of over 250 scholars. CHE’s Directorate and national administration was at The University of Western Australia, with nodes at the Universities of Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland and Sydney. Our membership included 14 Chief Investigators, 38 full-time Postdoctoral Fellows, 37 Postgraduate students and more than 100 Associate Investigators at universities around Australia. We worked with 10 international Partner Investigators from major institutions in the UK, Europe and Canada: Queen Mary University of London, the University of Southampton, Durham University, Newcastle University  and the University of Bristol (UK); Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), Université de Fribourg (Switzerland) and Umeå University (Sweden); Université du Québec à Montréal and Western University (Canada). We also established formal links with the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (USA) and the University of York (UK). CHE hosted over 50 international academic visitors on short-term fellowship schemes, and attracted (and continues to attract) many more to our conferences and collaboratories each year, from postgraduates to professors, and we collaborated on major international events in Germany, Italy, the UK, China, South Africa, the USA and Canada.

Our work continues.


To maintain excellence in history of emotions research into the future and continue our momentum, in late 2018 additional nodes of CHE were established at the Australian Catholic University, Western Sydney University, Macquarie University and the University of New England, with more under consideration, joining the original nodes at Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and Western Australia. The Directorate and national administration continue at UWA, and the node universities fund the Centre collectively for a further three years. Researchers continue to collaborate and publish together, within Australia and internationally, building on the relationships that were established in the first seven years.

Additionally, in 2017 CHE founded the Society for the History of Emotions, an international organisation that is home to a new biannual refereed interdisciplinary journal, Emotions: History Culture Society (EHCS), established in 2017 and published by Brill from 2018. The Society and journal have continued to broaden our interdisciplinary scope, and to extend the time period of our research from antiquity to the present-day. To join the Society and subscribe to EHCS please visit the Society section of the site.

CHE contains very much more than can be expressed in a few words. We warmly invite you to explore this site and learn more about what we do. Connect with our Centre, subscribe to our E-newsletter, engage with us on social media, and take part in the many public events we hold throughout Australia. You will be most welcome. We look forward to meeting you.


Dr Kirk Essary, The University of Western Australia. Director 2019–2022.

Professor Andrew Lynch, The University of Western Australia. Director 2014–2018.


Professor Susan Broomhall, The University of Western Australia. Director 2018.

Professor Philippa Maddern, The University of Western Australia. Foundation Director 2011–2014.

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