The Emotional Examination of History Applied to Literature

This article takes an interesting approach to history through the emotional.  This method and the prevailing and improving theories of the history of emotions is a great way to approach literature.  The liquid theory of emotion that discusses that emotions are almost like a liquid in the body wanting to seep out, which usually manifests itself in writings.  While this theory has been displaced by a more improved method it shows an interesting to understanding prevailing emotions of a period and the ones being suppressed.  By examining this method to literature of a certain period we can better understand a certain author’s approach or meaning in a text.  For example, if a Medieval writer is discussing courtly love we could decipher certain meanings from what is highlighted in the language or omitted.

1 thought on “The Emotional Examination of History Applied to Literature

  1. I completely agree that this is a key aspect of approaching literature, but it also complicates things so much. Fields of study are dedicated to emotional examination of history and as Rosenwein’s article shows, this is so important to our study of Medieval literature. On pages 836-7 she writes, “the physical and mental capacity to have emotions is universal, but the way these emotions are themselves elicited, felt, and expressed depend on cultural norms as well as individual proclivities.” As others have noted, she argues that “emotional communities” exist in complicated and overlapping ways. I never really thought about emotions throughout history and communities and how they might be different, or rather, privileged and expressed differently, than today. This article adds to, and complicates, Evans’ article as well as our class discussions.

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