Call for Papers – ESA Emotions Network Midterm Conference 2014**DEADLINE EXTENDED TO APRIL 6TH 2014**

Antony Gormley: FEELING MATERIAL XIV, 2004 4 mm square section mild steel bar 225 x 218 x 170 cm Photograph by Stephen White, London
Antony Gormley: FEELING MATERIAL XIV, 2004
4 mm square section mild steel bar
225 x 218 x 170 cm
Photograph by Stephen White, London


The ESA Emotions Network (RN11) will hold their 6th midterm conference between 25-27 September, 2014. The conference will take place on the island of Rhodes, Greece, in the University of the Aegean. This year, in addition to the usual streams, the conference will feature two special workshops on emotions – one for PhD students (featuring Prof. Helena Flam and Prof. Helmut Kuzmics), and one on the use of literary analysis for sociology of emotions research (again, featuring Prof. Helmut Kuzmics and Dr. Stephanie Bird). The proposed sessions, towards which you might pitch your abstracts, include: Theorizing Emotions; Emotions and: Morality; Globalization; Religion; Civic Action; Power; Literature; Law; Finance; Visuals; Migration-Sensations-Spaces; Post-Atrocity Emotions; and Researching Emotions Empirically. The full call for papers is here: CfP RN 11 Midterm Rhodes final(pdf).

Abstracts not exceeding 300 words should be sent by the 31st of March 2014 to Jochen Kleres ( Please use “RN 11 midterm submission”in the subject line of your email. Also, please send your abstract indicating whether it is for a specific session listed above. Notifications about the abstracts selected for presentation at the midterm conference will be made by mid-May 2014. Conference fees, more precise conference times, and links to accommodation will be announced then.

I hope to make it this year myself and I urge those working on affect or emotions to submit an abstract. I have been to other conferences with this group and always found them both intellectually stimulating and, perhaps more importantly, filled with interesting, warm and (not least) fun social scientists from all over the world. But hurry up! The deadline is Monday!


William Reddy – Do Emotions Have a History? The Example of Romantic Love.

In this fascinating talk William M. Reddy, the William T. Laprade Professor of History and Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, expounds on the theme of romantic love.  This is the subject of his recent (and award-winning) book called The Making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, 900-1200 CE (2012).  The talk took place at the University of Melbourne in March of last year, in association with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. The blurb for the talks is below.  Reddy’s earlier work, and his concept of ’emotional regimes’ in particular has been influential for my own work in the sociology of emotions.  I have recently aquired this book and look forward to reading it.  The talk offers a reasonable summary of the main arguments, which suggests that the history of love is different in Europe to elsewhere, where love and sexual desire are united.  In Europe this was the case prior to, but not after, the 12th century CE, when the medieval notion of courtly love developed in opposition to moral theological definitions of sexual love as an ‘appetite of the body’ to be suppressed, controlled and subject to discipline. Love became ‘split’ or bifurcated, as is the Western tendency, into ‘bad/profane’ sexual desire and ‘pure/sacred’ sublime love – body and soul.  This split did not occur elsewhere, according to Reddy, who uses (primarily) literary examples from Japan, Asia and other cultures to make a comparative ethnography of love.  These themes, and much more besides, feature in the talk.      

Are emotions hard-wired, or are they subject to cultural or historical variation? In general, emotions are not subject to voluntary control; we do not get to pick which ones we will feel. Some emotions, like fear or anger, may trigger physiological changes. Others, like pride or nostalgia, do not. Are emotions hard-wired? Or are they subject to cultural or historical variation? Or perhaps, some are hard-wired, others shaped by culture?

For decades experts have been divided on the subject. The question of romantic love is a good entry point for appreciating the complexities social scientists face in trying to make sense of emotions. It seems that romantic love, of one kind or another, can be found in almost every part of the world. Is it universal, a product of neurotransmitters interacting with subcortical structures? The record suggests, on the contrary, not only that romantic love has gone through some striking transformations over the centuries, but also that collective action can make a difference in how we feel.

Professor William M. Reddy is the author of the seminal work on the History of Emotions, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions. (Cambridge University Press, 2001). His most recent book is The making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia and Japan, 900-1200CE (University of Chicago Press) was published in 2012.

Charles Olson: Poet of Process

A very quick post, following some prodding from Mark Murphy of the ever-excellent Social Theory Applied blog, but one with an oblique relationship with social theory as such.  The New England poet Charles Olson, a key member of the Black Mountain School of American Poetry, was also one of the most philosophical poets of his generation. In particular, Olson’s poetry is heavily influenced by the process metaphysics of A.N.Whitehead. Olson made his debt to Whitehead explicit, referring to him often as ‘my cosmologist’ and his poetry can be read as a dialogue with, and cannot be properly understood without reference to, Whitehead.

Olsen, as you can hear the clip above where he recites ‘Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld]’, developed a distinctive style of poetry influenced by this ontology, which he called ‘open’ or ‘projective verse’.  In an essay in which he outlines this innovative approach to poetry called Projective Verse (pdf) he writes that:

A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it (he will have some several causations), by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the reader. Okay. Then the poem itself must, at all points, be a high energy construct and, at all points, an energy-discharge. So: how is the poet to accomplish same energy, how is he, what is the process by which a poet gets in, at all points energy at least the equivalent of the energy which propelled him in the first place, yet an energy which is peculiar to verse alone and which will be, obviously, also different from the energy which the reader, because he is the  third term, will take away?

The answer is breath.  Or at least, ear and breath in dynamic relationship. Form for Olson is ‘never more than an extension of content’ and the process is:

how the principle can be made so to shape the energies that the form is accomplished. And I think it can be boiled down to one statement…ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION. It  means exactly what it says, is a matter of, at all points (even, I should say, of our  management of daily reality as of the daily work) get on with it, keep moving, keep in, speed, the nerves, their speed, the perceptions, theirs, the acts, the split second acts, the whole business, keep it moving as fast as you can, citizen. And if you also set up as a poet, USE USE USE the process at all points, in any given poem always, always one perception must must must MOVE, INSTANTER, ON ANOTHER.

Ear and breath, the acquisitions of the former and the pressure of the latter:

the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE
the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE

Thus, the poem is ‘organic’, it grows, from the inside out.  It is, fundamentally, like nature, processual.

In the clip below, where Olson discusses this way or method, he invokes his ‘great master, and the companion of my poems, Mr. Whitehead, who called his cosmology the philosophy of organism’.  The overlap with and influence of Whitehead is clear.  These are reinforced when he turns to ‘objectism’, a position opposed to both objectivism and subjectivism:

What seems to me a more valid formulation for present use is “objectism,” a word to be taken to stand for the kind of relation of man to experience which a poet might state as the necessity of a line or a work to be as wood is, to be as clean as wood is as it issues from the hand of nature, to be as shaped as wood can be when a man has had his hand to it. Objectism is the getting rid of the lyrical interference of the individual as ego, of the “subject” and his soul, that peculiar presumption by which western man has interposed himself between what he is as a creature of nature (with certain instructions to carry out) and those other creations of nature which we may, with no derogation, call objects. For a man is himself an object, whatever he may take to be his advantages, the more likely to recognize himself as such the greater his advantages, particularly at that moment  that he achieves an humilitas sufficient to make him of use.

This is an Object Oriented Ontological Poetry in all but name (on which, see Morton (2012)pdf), as well as a process poetry.

The clip, and the one after it, are of a short documentary featuring Olson from 1966.  In the first one, he reads ‘Maximus to Gloucester’ again. In the second he reads The Librarian.

There is lots more to be said – the connections between the poet and the philosopher have been subject to a number of analyses, such as Blaser (1986), and more recently Bram (2004) – and I haven’t even mentioned Olson’s Maximus Poems, but for now, I leave Olson speak for himself.  Another interesting ‘poet of process’ is A.R.Amons, but I may return to him at another time.

What the post is intended to provoke is an exploration of the link between philosophy and art, between poetry and theory.  What Olson does is theory as poetry, which is, to me, an interesting approach.

CfP: European Sociological Association 11th Conference-Turin, Italy, 28 – 31 August 2013


This year’s European Sociological Association (ESA) bi-annual conference will be held in Turin (Torino), Italy, on the 28 – 31 August 2013.  The general theme is on ‘Crisis, Critique and Change’, and the pdf containing calls for all the networks and streams is here (though, annoyingly, without hyperlinks in the contents section to each of the different streams…sigh).  I hope to attend, and have a few potential papers that I am thinking of presenting.  Hopefully I will be able to drum up some money from somewhere.

Abstracts must be submitted online by the 1st of February-so hurry up!

The network that I am most associated with is RN11, the sociology of emotions network.  These are a a great bunch of international scholars-warm, welcoming, interesting, insightful-so I urge you, if you have research that engages with emotions and emotionality, to consider submitting to these sessions.  The specific RN11 call is below.  Hope to see you there!


RN11 – Sociology of emotions

Jochen Kleres University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
Stina Bergman Blix Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Sylvia Terpe Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany

The continuously growing field of the sociology of emotions has demonstrated that emotions are of fundamental significance to all aspects of social life. As a theoretical endeavor, the sociology of emotions aims at becoming superfluous as a separate field of scholarly interest by integrating into mainstream sociology. For this reason, we welcome papers that investigate the role of emotions in all aspects of society and social life. While all high-quality papers with a central focus on emotions will be considered, we also suggest a number of possible special topics listed below. This includes also contributions from neighboring disciplines that have significant relevance to sociology.


Key theoretical frameworks for the sociological analysis of emotions have stood the test of time during more than thirty years since they launched the sociology of emotions. Nevertheless, the potential for sociological theorizing of emotions is far from exhausted. For instance, the classics of sociology, far from mute on emotions, provide a valuable source of inspiration. Theoretical frameworks such as that of Norbert Elias may also engender innovative theorizing. While sociological interest in emotions is swiftly growing, emotions are still not recognized by mainstream social theorizing as a fundamental aspect of social life. We want to encourage contributions that try to develop innovative theories of emotions as well as theories that demonstrate how emotions can be integrated into social theorizing more generally.

Despite a history of several decades, the sociology of emotions has by and large not explored and theorized specific emotions. We welcome papers which develop theories of specific emotions that are highly relevant to social theorizing in general as well as useful for empirical research.

Morality, moral orientations and moral values have a long tradition in sociological research and theorizing. But how is their relation with emotions to be conceptualized? Are there particular ‘moral emotions’, and if so what constitutes a ‘moral emotion’? How are moral orientations and moral actions affected by emotions? Do emotions qualify as a substitute for lacking moral values? We welcome theoretical contributions as well as empirical studies dedicated to these questions.

Recent periods of economic turmoil in the world have the potential of shaking entrenched beliefs in the sober objective rationality of the economic sphere and its actors. Arguably, not only the recurring economic crises but also everyday finance business demonstrate that emotions are a key to all economic action and finance in particular.

Just like finance, the law is often conceived as a realm of objectivity and rationality. Burgeoning research shows that emotions are a pervasive feature of law and the court system. Papers that pinpoint, for instance, the role of emotion management by judges, emotions in court interaction, emotions and notions of justice, etc. are welcome.

There is still a dearth of methodological reflection for empirical emotion research. We welcome papers that present approaches to studying emotions empirically. Specific issues could include, but are not limited to: how can researchers deal with their own emotions within the analysis? How can one delineate an emotional culture empirically? How can one approach emotions within a transnational analysis? How can different approaches to empirical research inform a focus on emotions? How would they have to be developed?

In the past two-three decades resurgence in idealism, calling on societies split by violent conflicts to pursue truth, justice and reconciliation (often cast as a preconditions for making a transition to democracy), has re-asserted itself. Both trans-nationally and in each of the societies whose members had taken part in atrocities, there are attempts to formulate rules for post-atrocity times which spell out which emotions are prescribed and which are proscribed. Contributions are welcome highlighting in a critical way these emotional regimes and the vested interests behind them. How are emotions and emotional practices used and negotiated in order to come to terms with what has happened, to castigate perpetrators or to heal and forgive? This might also relate to explorations into the emotional dimensions of trauma.

Continued after the jump!

Continue reading “CfP: European Sociological Association 11th Conference-Turin, Italy, 28 – 31 August 2013”

CFP: Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilisation.

This conference focuses the social pathologies of contemporary civilisation, i.e. on the ways in which contemporary malaises, diseases, illnesses and psycho-somatic syndromes are related to cultural pathologies of the social body and disorders of the collective esprit de corps of contemporary society manifest at the level of individual patients’ bodies, and how the social & bodies politic are related to the hegemony of reductive biomedical and individual-psychologistic perspectives. The central research hypothesis guiding the conference is that many contemporary problems of health & well-being are to be understood in the light of radical changes of social structures & institutions, extending to deep crises in our civilisation as a whole. Problems of health and well-being have hitherto been considered in isolation; both in isolation from one another, and in isolation from broader contexts. The human person is an indivisible whole, the functioning of the body as an organism is intrinsically linked to the functioning of its mind, and even its ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. Health and well-being are not just located at the level of the individual body, the integral human person, or even collective social bodies, but encompass the health of humanity as a whole and our relationship with Nature. Recovery of our individual and collective health & well-being needs to be conceived of with such a holistic context, encompassing the importance of grace, beauty and meaningfulness to human flourishing. A particular focus of the conference is the role of humanities and social sciences, particularly sociology, philosophy and anthropology, in helping to understand the connection between individual & collective experiences of social transformations and of health & well-being.

We invite abstracts of not more than 300 words related to any of the above themes to be submitted not later than April 29th 2011 to the email address below. All abstracts will be subject to peer-review and should be sent to the conference organisers at

More details after the jump:

Continue reading “CFP: Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilisation.”

Introduction to Theory of Literature with Professor Paul H. Fry

This is a full, 26 lecture course on literary theory from Yale University, and taught by Prof. Paul H. Fry.  It offers a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose?

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring, 2009.  Lecture titles are listed after the jump.

Continue reading “Introduction to Theory of Literature with Professor Paul H. Fry”