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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Evidence and Emotion: Feelings at Work in Twentieth Century Britain

13th October 2015, 17:30 to 18:30, Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan's College, Professor Claire Langhamer, University of Sussex

In recent years historical research has taken an ‘emotional turn’, driven by an assertion that feeling is shaped by time and culture. A rich corpus of early research dwelt upon dominant emotional codes and standards, revealing how people were instructed to feel, if not how they actually did feel. More recently, and inspired by interdisciplinary impulses, historical interest has turned to the complex and contradictory ways people have employed emotions, interacted with dominant codes and navigated between ‘emotional communities.’ The everyday experience and use of emotion is increasingly of interest; so too are its political dimensions. This lecture will explore the work that emotions did in twentieth century Britain, politically, economically and socially.

The lecture links emotion to the wider theme of evidence by suggesting some of the ways in which individual emotional response in the past can be accessed by researchers today. It focuses in particular upon the possibilities offered by the social investigative organisation, Mass Observation; the pre-eminent archive for the study of everyday life in Britain. The relationship between thought, feeling and action lay at the heart of Mass Observation’s research practice in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, conceptualized as an interest in ‘the live dynamic whole of feeling and behavior’. The extensive collection of life writing that it generated helps us to get at what Joe Moran describes as ‘the messy, convoluted experience lived by thinking, feeling selves.’ The lecture will show that it also allows us to think beyond individual experience to explore the changing status and significance of feeling across the twentieth century.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor Claire Langhamer

Directions to Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan's College

Map - St Aidan's College is denoted as building No. 2


Contact for more information about this event.