The Passionate Devotions training school provided three days of stimulating and lively discussion, bringing together scholars working on a wide range of topics, spanning different timeframes and using diverse sources. Despite the breadth and diversity of our topics, it was very interesting to note the similarities in our approaches to our various projects and to discover that we face similar challenges in engaging with the history of emotions. Some key questions that arose frequently during the training school were as follows:
-How did people value different emotions? Were some emotions more valuable than others? How did people react to and regulate ‘undesirable’ emotions?
-How do different forms of engagement with emotion ‘scripts’ impact upon their effectiveness? For example, how does the act of reading in solitude differ in terms of emotional engagement from listening to a song as part of a group, or looking at an artwork or sculpture?
-How, and to what extent, can we evaluate the effectiveness of the emotional scripts that we study?
I frequently consider these broad questions in my research and, as a result of the workshop, I feel better placed to engage with these issues.
Moving from general questions to my specific field of study, the workshop highlighted the connections between my research and that of other scholars. The training school has suggested a range of ways through which I might more fully contextualise the vernacular laments that are the current focus of my research, for example, by examining the use of laments in funeral masses. Furthermore, the workshop highlighted that I need to consider in more depth the ways in which different groups may have interacted with the laments, and what the intended impact of the laments on these diverse groups may have been.
Overall, the Passionate Devotions training school allowed me to deepen my understanding of some of my main research questions, and greatly enhanced my knowledge of key issues and debates within the field of history of emotions. It also allowed me to meet and exchange ideas with other scholars whose work intersects with my own, and whom I would not have met were it not for the wonderful opportunity provided by the workshop.
Lauren Mulholland (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This post forms part of an open mini-series published in preparation of the COST Action IS1301 Training School “Passionate Devotions. Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Religious Texts, Images and Music” (see announcement with details about submissions here).
It is published under