A Review of Sorts

I guess due to my inattentiveness, (which is due to my lack of shut eye recently) when I read the title of Trigg’s article it didn’t occur to me that this was exactly what it says it is: an introduction. Due to this, when I was reading, the thought kept occurring to me that this all sounded pretty familiar, with a few new concepts introduced. After a while it hit me that this is the first chapter to the journal several of our other scholarly articles have come from this semester. I’m going to continue to view that mishap as the product of delirium, not incompetence.

While the content of this article was not entirely new, there were some things I drew from it and enjoyed. First off, I liked how Trigg connected our fascination with emotion and feeling with Facebook. I’ve heard many joke about the concept that if something doesn’t receive any likes on social media, did it really happen or does it really matter? Though this concept obviously doesn’t hold any weight, it does say something about our emotions and how and why we portray them to others. This is what I feel a lot of the articles we have read this semester are trying to figure out: how emotion is portrayed through Medieval literature and whether we can trust this medium for insight on how people actually felt during this time. Trigg points out that because “we cannot accurately map, chart, or measure somatic or cognitive affect” in historically-oriented studies, we “must rely on textual and material traces and representations of feelings and passions” (7).

This leads to another thing I enjoyed about the article: the distinction between affect and emotion. Trigg explains that the term “emotion” is more commonly used in these historically-oriented studies because “affect” more deals with the “unconscious, pre-discursive bodily response in quite precise terms” and is more “aligned with phenomenological and social inquiry,” whereas emotions “suggests a complex and productively layered senses of inquiry into historical change, historical emotions, and the history of the term and concept of the ’emotions’ themselves” (5, 6, 8). I’m finished quoting, I swear.

The main thing I liked about Trigg’s article is that it focused on how studying the history of emotion can help us understand historical social constructions and the changes they went through and why, which is something I plan on talking about for my final paper in relation to Margery Kempe and the effect the envy she felt and caused others to feel had on her social community.

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