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Literature and Social Emotions, University of Bristol

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Priory Road Complex

12 Priory Road

Bristol

BS8 1TU

United Kingdom

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Are all emotions social emotions? Work on the cultural and historical dimensions of emotion in recent decades has argued that emotions are, to an extent, socially constructed experiences: think of Sara Ahmed’s conceptualisation of the way emotions ‘stick’ to objects in a social context, for example, William Reddy’s theory of normative emotional regimes, or Monique Scheer’s work on emotions as socially learnt practices. Yet at the same time the term ‘social emotions’ remains of use in scholarship across a range of disciplines, functioning to tease apart emotional experiences with an intrinsic relationship to social appraisal, real or imagined, from so-called ‘basic’ emotions like happiness or fear. Emotions considered strongly social typically include shame, shyness, and envy—but also empathy.

This interdisciplinary symposium brings together literary scholars, historians, sociologists, and social psychologists from around the world to interrogate two overlapping strands: a) the sociality of emotion and b) the sociality of literature. Papers interrogate literary articulations of shame and embarrassment, and envy and empathy, from early modern Italy and post-Civil war England through to the present day. Others examine emotions as vexed social and political questions in, and for, Victorian Britain, Fascist Italy, and contemporary Germany. Through discussion of reading communities in contexts as diverse as Restoration France and Soviet Russia, the symposium also explores the often neglected interpersonal aspects surrounding literary production and reception.

Literature and Social Emotions is generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust as part of an Early Career Grant held by the organiser, Dr. Philippa Lewis.

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Priory Road Complex

12 Priory Road

Bristol

BS8 1TU

United Kingdom

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