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Anger's Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages

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Books have rarely been written about the history of any emotion except love and shame, and this volume is the very first on the meaning of anger in the Middle Ages. Well aware of modern theories about the nature of anger, the authors consider the role of anger in the social lives and conceptual universes of a varied and significant cross-section of medieval people: monks, saints, kings, lords, and peasants. They are careful to distinguish between texts (the sources on which historians must rely) and the reality behind the texts. They are sensitive, as well, to the differences between ideals and normative behavior.

The first eight essays in the volume focus on anger in the Latin West, while the last two turn to the fringes of Europe (the Celtic and Islamic worlds) for purposes of comparison. Barbara H. Rosenwein concludes the volume with an essay on modern conceptions of anger and their implications for understanding its role in the Middle Ages. The essays reveal much that is new about medieval rituals of honor and status and illuminate the rationales behind such seemingly irrational practices as cursing, feuding, and the punishment of blinding.

Contributors: Gerd Althoff, University of Münster; Richard E. Barton, Yale University; Geneviéve Bührer-Thierry, University of Marne-la-Vallée; Wendy Davies, University College London; Paul Freedman, Yale University; Zouhair Ghazzal, Loyola University, Chicago; Paul Hyams, Cornell University; Lester K. Little, Smith College; Catherine Peyroux, Duke University; Barbara H. Rosenwein, Loyola University, Chicago; Stephen D. White, Emory University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Overall, this work fills a large lacuna because . . . the history of anger has not yet been written. . . . This work will be a welcome addition to research and graduate libraries."—History

"The collection of articles assembled in this book is yet another proof for the vibrancy and progressiveness of medieval studies at large. . . The authors demonstrate the excellent results of interdisciplinary research employing both traditional philological research skills as well as insights from anthropology, sociology, and Mentalités-geschite. . . This excellent volume demonstrates that medieval society was neither primitive nor ideal, as it experienced many forms of anger, but often knew very well how to deal with it, as anger assumed an important ritual function for the aristocracy."—Albrecht Classen, Arthuriana

"As this collection shows, the history of the emotions is a promising field which should yield riches for researchers, outside as well as in America, in the years to come."—Sarah Hamilton, University of Exeter

"This is a valuable and fascinating collection of essays that explores the cultural, social, linguistic, and political contexts of medieval anger. Its principal values lie first in its successful challenge to the ahistorical, evolutionary constructs of Elias, and second, in the models it presents for further investigation of the history of emotions in medieval or in any other society. I expect that this will be a watershed volume, much read by students and scholars not only in medieval studies but in a wide spectrum of disciplines."—Patrick Geary, University of California, Los Angeles

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801483431
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Monks and Saints
1 Anger in Monastic Curses 9
2 Gertrude's furor: Reading Anger in an Early Medieval Saint's Life 36
Pt. II Kings and Emperors
3 Ira Regis: Prolegomena to a History of Royal Anger 59
4 "Just Anger" or "Vengeful Anger"? The Punishment of Blinding in the Early Medieval West 75
5 What Did Henry III of England Think in Bed and in French about Kingship and Anger? 92
Pt. III Lords and Peasants
6 The Politics of Anger 127
7 "Zealous Anger" and the Renegotiation of Aristocratic Relationships in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century France 153
8 Peasant Anger in the Late Middle Ages 171
Pt. IV Celts and Muslims
9 Anger and the Celtic Saint 191
10 From Anger on Behalf of God to "Forbearance" in Islamic Medieval Literature 203
Pt. V Conclusions
11 Controlling Paradigms 233
Contributors 248
Index 251
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