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4 - PATTERNS OF FEAR AND RISK

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2009

Caterina Bruschi
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
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Summary

for Bernard of Rival

STATE OF THE QUESTION (STATUS QUAESTIONIS)

When tackling the definition and study of emotions, it is normal to seek answers from the social sciences, psychology and economics, all of which are disciplines that have successfully engaged in a long–standing debate over this issue. Historical analysis has been always rather cautious about entering this theoretical arena, even hostile. The hostility owes much to the ideologically ‘heavy’ attitude of Marc Bloch. By labelling medieval emotions as ‘instable’ and ‘impulsive acts’, which are difficult for historians to categorise, Bloch effectively discouraged the study of emotions in the medieval world. They came to be dismissed as incompatible with a rational theoretical approach. Nevertheless, there is a thread linking early methodological approaches to current historical debates. Particularly in France, the tradition of studying emotions in a historical perspective goes back to the publication of a famous article by Lucien Fevbre in 1941. This formed part of the ground–breaking historical approaches promoted by the early Annales school. From then onwards, however, while many of these Annales ideas enjoyed a huge and fruitful popularity, the same cannot be said of the study of emotions. For some time this was confined to the field of ‘psycho–history’, or relegated to other non–historical disciplines.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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