Past and Present Emotion

Barbara Rosenwein explores the history of Western emotion by offering viewpoint of professionals in different areas of study. Each individual present a different explanation for how emotions were managed in the pre-modern and modern periods, one explanation building on or countering another. Most of the experts presented argue that emotions were untamed in the pre-modern world and that civilization comes with modernization from either: education, religion, psychology, social construct, social status, or female presence, each offering an argument for one influence or another.

In my opinion emotional expression is shaped by a combination of these influences as Rosenwein suggests in the last pages of the essay. She asserts that emotional configurations of home-life and outside influence shape emotional behavior, and I agree to certain extent. In addition to home life and outside influence, I also share Reddy’s perspective that emotions are managed by an individual’s personal feelings. The appropriate outward response to those feelings are defined by what society deems expectable and, therefore, are influenced by an individual’s culture, which is slightly altered overtime.

There is no one factor responsible for managing emotion, or a set point at which emotions became constrained because society constantly redefines what is acceptable based on present values, but this topic is open for interpretation. Thoughts?

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