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Fears and Angers: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Organised by the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Centre for the History of the Emotions and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe, 1100–1800)

Dates: 19–20 June 2017
Venue: Arts Two Building, Mile End Campus, Queen Mary University of London
Contact: emotions@qmul.ac.uk and pam.bond@uwa.edu.au.

Registration is now closed.  Please contact emotions@qmul.ac.uk for any late registration enquiries.

The final program (with abstracts) is available now:

According to the wheel of emotions (above) created by the psychologist Robert Plutchik in 1980, angry and fearful emotions are diametrically opposed to each other, as approach and avoidance responses respectively to harmful stimuli.

Plutchik’s is one of many different models suggesting the existence of certain 'basic' or 'primary' emotions. Such lists almost always include both fear and anger. Historically, fearful and angry emotions have been related to each other in different ways – sometimes opposed, sometimes complementary, and sometimes in another way. For Thomas Aquinas, for instance, ira is alone among the passions in having no contrary.

Although basic emotion theorists tend to treat 'fear' and 'anger' as singular emotions, even Plutchik’s wheel includes three different intensities for each emotion – from annoyance to rage and from apprehension to terror. Historians tend to be more attuned to cultural specificities of emotional language, concepts and expression, hence the emphasis in this conference on 'fears' and 'angers' in the plural to encourage a wide range of papers on all sorts of fear-like and anger-like feelings and behaviours in different cultures and periods.

The conference aims to bring humanities scholars of all periods into conversation with each other and with experts in the contemporary study of emotions, including neuroscientists, psychologists, philosophers and linguists.

The conference will extend over two days, including plenary sessions by distinguished invited speakers, roundtable discussion groups, and numerous panels consisting of three 20 minute papers with discussion. One or more refereed publications of essays based on proceedings are expected.

Confirmed Speakers

Professor James A. Russell (Boston College)
Professor W. Gerrod Parrott (Georgetown University)

Conference Committee

Dr Elena Carrera (Queen Mary University of London)
Professor Thomas Dixon (Queen Mary University of London)
Evelien Lemmens (Queen Mary University of London)
Professor Andrew Lynch (The University of Western Australia)
Dr Helen Stark (Queen Mary University of London)
Dr Giovanni Tarantino (The University of Western Australia)

Individual Papers at this conference will address either a single emotion in the fearful or angry categories, or examine the relationship between the two. Possible topics may include:

  • The varieties of fear – from anxiety and angst to mortal fear and terror. What were the objects and causes of fearful emotions in different times and places?
  • The varieties of anger – from annoyance and irritation to ire, vengeance, fury and rage; the different objects and causes of angry emotions.
  • The history of terms and concepts for different fearful or angry emotions.
  • Visual and literary representations.
  • Material culture and emotions.
  • Theories of fearful and angry emotions in the histories of science, medicine, philosophy, theology, and other learned discourses.
  • The relationships between fearful and angry emotions. Does one cause the other? Are they complementary or opposite?
  • What historical and contemporary approaches to fear or anger can learn from each other.
  • Historical and contemporary debates about the number and identity of the so-called basic or primary emotions.
  • Terror and rage as political emotions (past and present).

Image: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions. Source: Plutchik-wheel.svg