New history of emotions journal marks coming-of-age in growing field

A new international journal on the study of emotions to be launched in York this month marks the extraordinary global growth of a discipline that was barely heard of just a decade ago.

The journal, Emotions: History, Culture, Society, is being published by the new Society for the History of Emotions, headquartered at The University of Western Australia. Its advisory board draws on the expertise of scholars from 22 institutions around the globe across a wide range of disciplines.

Launching at a major international conference at The University of York on June 28-29, Powerful Emotions / Emotions and Power c.400-1850, the biennial journal will provide a home for scholars whose work investigates how human emotions are impacted by time, place, society and culture.

Andrew Lynch, journal co-editor and director of the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Europe 1100-1800 (CHE), said interest in emotions research had grown exponentially over the past decade, and the humanities and social sciences had greatly benefitted from this fresh approach.

“There are now at least five dedicated centres across the globe researching the impact of emotions on our personal and public lives and on the progress of history,” Prof Lynch said.

“Emotions research methodology is now applied to disciplines such as law, education, anthropology, politics, musicology and literature, and is helping us rethink the way the world works, both past and present.”

The journal’s first edition includes peer-reviewed articles by leading scholars writing on subjects as diverse as:  the influence of an emotional public on 18th-century English law courts; the role of melancholy and mourning in post-war, post-colonial African societies; and the emotional responses of concertgoers at musical events across the centuries. Reviews of recent relevant publications are also included.

Prof Lynch said it was heartening to see the rapid rise and maturation of emotions research, as well as the international collegiality of scholars working in the field.

“Now is the perfect time to publish a journal where our scholarly conversations can continue and where new methodologies, ideas and theoretically-informed case studies can be developed,” he said.

“The journal will complement the broader aims and role of the Society as a leading academic professional association that strives to advance emotions research and bring like-minded scholars together.”

Prof Lynch, his journal co-editor Katie Barclay and other international academics will be presenting papers at Powerful Emotions / Emotions and Power c.400-1850, to be held at the University of York, Heslington Campus, from June 28 to 29.

The interdisciplinary conference is jointly organised by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Centres for Medieval Studies, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and Eighteenth Century Studies at The University of York.