Feeling Things: Objects and Emotions through History

Feeling Things: Objects and Emotions through History


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This interdisciplinary essay collection investigates the various interactions of people, feelings, and things throughout premodern Europe. It focuses on the period before mass production, when limited literacy often prioritised material methods of communication. The subject of materiality has been of increasing significance in recent historical inquiry, alongside growing emphasis on the relationships between objects, emotions, and affect in archaeological and sociological research. The historical intersections between materiality and emotions, however, have remained under-theorised, particularly with respect to artefacts that have continuing resonance over extended periods of time or across cultural and geographical space. Feeling Things addresses the need to develop an appropriate cross-disciplinary theoretical framework for the analysis of objects and emotions in European history, with special attention to the need to track the shifting emotional valencies of objects from the past to the present, and from one place and cultural context to another.

The collection draws together an international group of historians, art historians, curators, and literary scholars working on a variety of cultural, literary, visual, and material sources. Objects considered include books, letters, prosthetics, religious relics, shoes, stone, and textiles. Many of these have been preserved in international galleries, museums, and archives, while others have remained in their original locations, even as their contexts have changed over time. The chapters consider the ways in which emotions such as despair, fear, grief, hope, love, and wonder become inscribed in and ascribed to these items, producing 'emotional objects' of significance and agency. Such objects can be harnessed to create, affirm, or express individual relationships, as, for example, in religious devotion and practice, or in the construction of cultural, communal, and national identities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198802648
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/18/2018
Series: Emotions in History Series
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Stephanie Downes is a research fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her current research on the representation of human facial expression in late medieval textual culture is funded by the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, 1100-1800. With Andrew Lynch and Katrina O'Loughlin, she has edited Emotions and War: Medieval to Romantic Literature (2016), and with Stephanie Trigg, a special issue of the journal postmedieval, 'Facing Up to the History of Emotions' (April 2017). Her monograph, Reading Christine de Pizan in England, 1399-1929, is forthcoming.

Sally Holloway is Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow in History at Oxford Brookes University. She completed her PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2013, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and is currently converting the thesis into a book on romantic love in Georgian England. Recent articles include '"You know I am all on fire": Writing the Adulterous Affair in England, c. 1740-1830', Historical Research 89 (2016), pp. 317-39, and with Alice Dolan, a special issue of the journal Textile on 'Emotional Textiles'. Sally is an Affiliated Research Scholar at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary, University of London. In 2016 she was an Early Career International Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Sarah Randles is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Researcher in the School of Humanities at the University of Tasmania. She was formerly a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. Her current research project explores the relationship between materiality and the emotions of pilgrimage and sacred place, focusing on the relics and other aspects of material culture in Chartres Cathedral. She has also published on medieval and later textiles, supernatural beliefs and their attendant practices, and on medievalism in Australia.

Table of Contents

Introduction, Stephanie Downes, Sally Holloway & Sarah Randles
1. A Feeling for Things: Past & Present, Stephanie Downes, Sally Holloway & Sarah Randles
2. Matter Matters, Elina Gertsman
3. Signs of Emotion: Pilgrimage Tokens from the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Chartres, Sarah Randles
4. Capturing Christ's Tears: La Sainte Larme in Medieval and Early Modern France, Helen M. Hickey
5. Holding the Sole: Shoes, Emotions, and the Supernatural, Hilary Davidson
6. Get a Grip? The Tactile Object of Handlyng Synne, Lara Farina
7. Emotional Debris in Early Modern Letters, Diana G. Barnes
8. Emotional Attachments: Iron Hands, their Makers, and their Wearers, 1450-1600, John Gagne
9. Materialising Maternal Emotions: Birth, Celebration and Renunciation in England c. 1688-1830, Sally Holloway
10. Dirk Hartog's Sea Chest: An Affective Archaeology of VOC Objects in Australia, Susan Broomhall
11. Romancing the Stone: (E)motion and the Affective History of the Stone of Scone, Alicia Marchant
12. Lord Mansfield's Voices. In The Archive, Hearing Things, Carolyn Steedman
13. Afterword: Moving Objects: Emotional Transformation, Tangibility, and Time-Travel, Joanne Begiato

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