CFP: Mastering the Emotions: Control, Contagion and Chaos, 1800 to the Present Day

Mastering the Emotions: Control, Contagion and Chaos, 1800 to the Present Day
Queen Mary, University of London
16th-17th June 2011
Proposals Due: 14 February

Keynote Speakers:
Sally Shuttleworth, St Anne’s College, Oxford University, UK
Allan Young, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

What does it mean to master one’s emotions?

Since the modern category of ‘the emotions’ emerged in the early decades of the nineteenth century, much medical knowledge about and scientific research into this elusive phenomenon has been concerned with its potentially involuntary nature, and with the ability and inability of humans to exert control over their emotions.

From the nineteenth century’s preoccupation with the nature of impulse and involuntary expression, to our own concerns about emotional literacy and regulation, the problem of constricting emotions and producing them on demand has troubled psychologists, physicians, philosophers, scientists, writers and artists alike.

Constructed as both irrational, yet within the bounds of rational control, separate from, yet the product of bodily processes, the emotions have historically proved a key site of medical and cultural debate. At the same time, the exercise of too much control has also been pathologised, and both theatricalised and repressed emotions have historically called into question prevailing notions of ‘authenticity’ and emotional truth.

Papers are invited which explore the management, control or manipulation of the emotions between 1800 and the present day. Possible themes might include, but are not limited to:

– Pathologisation (e.g. of absence and excess of emotion, emotional impulses)
– Regulation (e.g. medical or psychological intervention, medically directed self-regulation, emotions and public policy)
– Manipulation and Performativity (e.g. theatre, malingering)
– Trauma and Repression (e.g. emotion and the subconscious, emotional release as therapeutic, the production of emotional states through drugs and hypnosis)

Please send abstract proposals of 300 words, or panel proposals (2 or4 abstracts, and a panel rationale of 300 words) by email to Tiffany Watt-Smith t.k.watt-smith@qmul.ac.uk by 14th February 2011. All speakers will be notified by 28th February 2011.

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