Emotion, Affect, and Feeling in Late Medieval English Devotion (ICMS Kalamazoo 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Jasmin Miller and Spencer Strub, UC Berkeley

The past decade has seen a burgeoning of interest in the place of emotion in late medieval English literature and religious writing. Underlying this turn to emotion are two broader modes of thought: the history of emotions and affect theory. Both historians of the emotions and contemporary affect theorists carefully observe distinctions between the cognitive and precognitive elements of emotional experience. But only recently have late medievalists begun to investigate the distinctions between feeling, affect, and emotion in Middle English, Latin, and Anglo-French literature and devotional writing.

This panel provides an opportunity for scholars to think more critically about these terms and the distinctions they encode, focusing in particular on devotional texts and their writers, commentators, and readers. Medievalists have long addressed the nature of emotional experience in devotion, and the construction of the emotions themselves, under the rubric of affective piety. But how does late medieval devotion differentiate between named emotions and wordless “pressures” and “intensities”? How do late medieval English texts approach the intersection of the body, the soul, and the will, as it was constituted in everyday life and religious practice?

We invite papers approaching these questions from a variety of theoretical approaches. Some questions our panelists might be interested in addressing include:
- How do distinctions between precognitive affect and emotion obtain in late medieval pastoralia, confessionals, hagiography, and contemplative writing?
- What roles do affect, feeling, and/or emotion play in late-medieval discourse on speech, and representations of speech in literary writing?
- Can one distinguish the affective and emotional effects of literary form? Is one form, or set of forms, more fitting to achieve maximal or minimal affect, feeling, or emotion?
- How are communities formed through affect, feeling, and emotion in texts of devotional literature and religious instruction?
- How is the psychology of the individual or the soul of the individual affected?
- What is the place of the “first movements” in late medieval English religious thought?
- How can one shape or respond to affect, feeling, or emotion through spiritual exercise (e.g. reading, prayer, meditation, contemplation, etc.)? What, if any, are the limitations of spiritual exercise or instruction about such exercises in achieving particular affects, feelings, or emotions?

Please send paper proposals of 300 words along with a completed Participant Information Form to Jasmin Miller (jasminmiller@berkeley.edu) and Spencer Strub (spencer.strub@berkeley.edu) by September 15, 2017.

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