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2016 Methods Collaboratory: Moving Minds: converting cognition and emotion in history

Date: 2-4 March 2016
Venue: Macquarie University, Sydney
Contact and Enquiries: movingminds2016@mq.edu.au
Registration is free, but bookings are essential.  Please register here by Friday 26th February 2016 for catering purposes.

Please note: This is an open event, and will serve as CHE’s Methods Collaboratory for 2016.

Download the Program



  • What is the history of the mind?
  • How do cognition and emotion relate, now and historically?
  • How are their histories to be studied?

Keynote Speakers

Gail Kern Paster, Folger Shakespeare Library and Shakespeare Quarterly, Washington D.C.
Monique Scheer, Historical & Cultural Anthropology, University of Tübingen
Justin E.H. Smith, Histoire et Philosophie des Sciences, Université Paris Diderot – Paris VII
Harvey Whitehouse, Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford
Paul Yachnin, English, McGill University and Early Modern Conversions

This conference is jointly organized and sponsored by three distinct interdisciplinary research groups spanning the humanities, social sciences, and cognitive sciences: the ARC (Australian Research Council) Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), hosted by the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University (http://www.ccd.edu.au/); the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Europe 1100-1800 (http://www.historyofemotions.org.au/); and the McGill-based project Early Modern Conversions: religions, cultures, cognitive ecologies (http://earlymodernconversions.com/).

The primary historical focus of the conference is the Medieval and Early Modern period (roughly 1100-1800), but we will also consider historical, comparative, or theoretical papers addressing earlier or later periods.


The history of moving minds and moved minds involves conversions and transformations of many forms, in technology and religion and natural philosophy, in rituals and skills and forms of reasoning, in art and music and language and identity. Is there a field of ‘cognitive history’ or ‘historical cognitive science’? Is there a ‘cognitive turn’ in cultural history and literary theory? If so, how does it relate to the maturing interdisciplinary study of the history of emotions? Do these approaches advance on existing historical work on mentalities, practices, embodiment, the senses, memory, narrative, or material culture?

Likewise, can historical evidence actively inform the cognitive sciences? Is the use of modern psychological categories in interpreting the past inevitably anachronistic or presentist? In what ways are emotional and cognitive phenomena intrinsically historical? In turn, how do minds shape and constrain history? How do cognition and emotion fit into an understanding of history on deep or evolutionary timescales?


Conference committee


John Sutton (Cognitive Science, Macquarie); Evelyn Tribble (English, Otago)

Local committee

Amanda Barnier (Cognitive Science, Macquarie [CCD]); Malcolm Choat (Ancient History, Macquarie); Greg Downey (Anthropology, Macquarie); Helen Groth (English, University of New South Wales); Antonina Harbus (English, Macquarie); Chris McCarroll (Cognitive Science, Macquarie); Rachel Yuen-Collingridge (Ancient History, Macquarie)

Advisory committee

Patricia Badir
(English, University of British Columbia [Conversions]); Stephen Gaukroger (History & Philosophy of Science, Sydney); Andrew Lynch (English & Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia [CHE]); Juanita Ruys (Medieval & Early Modern Centre, Sydney [CHE]); Benjamin Schmidt (History, Washington [Conversions]); Jacqueline van Gent (English & Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia [CHE]); Stephen Wittek (Early Modern Conversions, McGill [Conversions]); Charles Zika (History, Melbourne [CHE]).

There will be a related Conversions/ History of Emotions event in Perth, Western Australia, on March 7-8 2016 after this conference. Details to follow.

Image: Passion of Christ, Sandro Botticelli, circa 1500.