In the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, theologians and philosophers considered what we call today "emotions" to be complex mental states that encompass cognitive components. They viewed emotions as playing a central role in the soul, not only as an intuitive response to events, but also as a bodily and mental component that can be cultivated and disciplined in order to produce a moral individual. While some modern studies emphasize the essentialism and universalism of emotions, certain historians, sociologists, and anthropologists point at the power of social interaction in culture to nurture specific feelings while restricting others. Scholars have examined texts written and used by certain social groups (what Barbara Rosenwein terms "emotional communities") in their search for verbal expressions of feelings or "emotives" (William Reddy), in order to unveil how societies manage biologically-based emotions.

Indeed, the attempts to discipline emotions – whether restrict, prohibit, encourage or glorify them – through textual or artistic productions, are the focus of this conference. We invite abstracts which explore the means and methods used to discipline emotions through the production, the structure or the consumption of cultural creations.

In spite of the difference in media and in ways of expression between visual imagery and texts, we assume that they not only illustrated cultural norms but actively participated in their creation. Additionally, essential questions have been raised concerning the formation of emotions in societies in history: What kinds of emotions were presented in textual or art works? What artistic or thematic means were used by the authors/artists in order to evoke an emotional situation? What didactic message did they convey, and who was it destined for?

The conference is open to scholars of a broad set of disciplines: history, art history, literature, film and media studies, translation studies etc. Although the conference will focus on the Middle ages and the early modern era, proposals related to other periods will be considered as well. In conjunction with the conference, a follow-up publication is planned. Colleagues wishing to participate in the conference are kindly asked to take this in consideration. Reworked papers will be due by 31 December 2020. They will be subjected to blind peer review.

The conference is part of the research group on “Emotions in Text and Art”, carried out at the Faculty of Humanities at Bar-Ilan University.

Proposals of up to 500 words (in English) for a 20-minute paper should be e-mailed to the following addresses no later than 30 October 2019: [email protected]
Each proposal should be accompanied by full contact information and a short academic bio.