The history of emotions

Author: Rob Boddice

The history of emotions is the first accessible textbook on the theories, methods, achievements, and problems in this burgeoning field of historical inquiry. Historians of emotion borrow heavily from the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, philosophy and neuroscience, and stake out a claim that emotions have a past and change over time. This book introduces students and professional historians to the main areas of concern in the history of emotions, discussing how the emotions intersect with other lines of historical research relating to power, practice, society and morality. Providing a narrative of historical emotions concepts, the book is the go-to handbook for understanding the problems of interpreting historical experience, collating and evaluating all the principal methodological tools generated and used by historians of emotion. It also lays out an historiographical map of emotions history research in the past and present, and sets the agenda for the future of the history of emotions. Chiefly centring on the rapprochement of the humanities and the neurosciences, the book proposes a way forward in which disciplinary lines become blurred. Addressing criticism from both within and without the discipline of history, The history of emotions offers a rigorous defence of this new approach, demonstrating its potential to lie at the centre of historiographical practice, as well as the importance of this kind of historical work for our general understanding of the human brain and the meaning of human experience.

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‘Boddice’s book is essential reading as it affords a broad understanding of the current state of play in the history of emotions.'
History Australia
January 2019

‘Boddice’s fantastic introduction to the study of the history of emotions is as detailed, wide-ranging, and useful as any brief introduction can possibly be. His background on the subject is impeccable. Boddice has been thinking, talking, and researching about emotions for many years in Berlin while also conversing with the leading figures at all the major centers involved in the study of emotion. Indeed, Rhodri Hayward, a Welsh wizard of emotions, at Queen Mary, University of London, encouraged Boddice to write his book. Thank goodness that he did and that Boddice agreed. Now an introductory text exists that is so readable and well written that nonspecialists will find it hugely accessible, and seasoned historians will be able to “take the temperature of the field as a whole as it now stands,” avoiding the “unnecessary labour” of plodding through a vast field of “extensive bibliographical research” (1–7). Amen to that.'
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
July 2020

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