Natalie Zemon Davis Annual Lecture Series: Lost Emotions
Emotions in History: Lost and Found
Emotions are a “hot” topic. Almost every day, neuroscientists are coming up with new insights into the “emotional brain,” and the public shows a keen interest. Coming to terms with emotions and how they influence human behavior, seems to be of the utmost importance to societies that are obsessed with everything “neuro.” On the other hand, emotions have become an object of constant individual and social manipulation since “emotional intelligence” emerged as a buzzword of our times. Reflecting on this burgeoning interest in human emotions makes one think of how this interest developed and what fuelled it. From a historian’s point of view, it can be traced back to classical antiquity. But it has undergone shifts and changes which can in turn shed light on social concepts of the self and its relation to other human beings (and nature). The three lectures focus on the historicity of emotions and explore the processes that brought them to the fore of public interest and debate.
Professor Ute Frevert is Director of the Research Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society. Between 2003 and 2007 she was a professor of German history at Yale University. Her research interests include social and cultural history of modern times, gender history and political history. Some of her best known work has examined the history of women and gender relations in modern Germany (Women in German History: From Bourgeois Emancipation to Sexual Liberation, 1989), social and medical policy in 19th-century Germany (Krankheit als politisches Problem 1770–1880, 1984), and the impact of military conscription on German society from 1814 to the present day (A Nation in Barracks: Modern Germany, Military Conscription and Civil Society, 2004). Her classic study of the duel (Men of Honour: A Social and Cultural History of the Duel, 1995) was praised for superbly connecting cultural and social history. In her most recent work, she uses a similar approach analyzing the political, social and cultural representations of trust and honor. Her book on European identifications (Eurovisionen. Ansichten guter Europaer im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, 2003) looks at 19th and 20th-century trans-nationalism as an experience of mutual encounter and influence, of exclusion and inclusion, of trust and distrust. Ute Frevert is an honorary professor at the Free University of Berlin and member of several scientific boards; she was awarded the prestigious Leibniz Prize in 1998.