Enthusiasm: Emotional Practices of Conviction in Modern Germany (OUP 2020). With Michael Amico (HoE) and Karsten Lichau (HoE) as discussants.

  • Datum: 15.06.2021
  • Uhrzeit: 18:00
  • Vortragende(r): Monique Scheer, Universität Tübingen
  • Ort: online
  • Gastgeber: Forschungsbereich Geschichte der Gefühle

Enthusiasm seeks to contribute to a culturally and historically nuanced understanding of how emotions secure and ratify the truth of convictions. More than just pure affective intensity, enthusiasm is about something: a certainty, clarity, or truth. Neither as clearly negative as fanaticism nor as general as passion, enthusiasm specifically entails belief. For this reason, the book takes its starting point in religion, the social arena in which the concept was first debated and to which the term still gestures. Empirically based in modern German Protestantism, where religious emotion is intensely cultivated but also subject to vigorous scrutiny, it combines historical and ethnographic methods to show how enthusiasm has been negotiated and honed as a practice in Protestant denominations ranging from liberal to charismatic. The nexus of religion and emotion and how it relates to central concepts of modernity such as rationality, knowledge, interiority, and sincerity are key to understanding why moderns are so ambivalent about enthusiasm. Grounded in practice theory, Enthusiasm assumes that emotions are not an affective state we 'have' but mind-body activations we 'do', having learned to perform them in culturally specific ways. When understood as an emotional practice, enthusiasm has different styles, inflected by historical traditions, social milieus, and knowledge (even ideologies) about emotions and how they work. Enthusiasm also provides insight into how this feeling works in secular humanism as well as in politics, and why it is so contested as a practice in any context.

Monique Scheer is Professor of Historical and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Tübingen, where she also serves as Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Diversity. From 2008- 2011, she was a Research Fellow at the Center for the History of Emotions, MPI for Human Development. Other recent publications include: Secular Bodies, Affects and Emotions - European Configurations (edited with Nadia Fadil and Birgitte Schepelern Johansen, Bloomsbury 2019) and The Public Work of Christmas: Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies (edited with Pamela E. Klassen, McGill-Queen's University Press 2019).

Michael Amico is a researcher at the Center for the History of Emotions. He holds a PhD in American Studies from Yale University. He is the author, with Michael Bronski and Ann Pellegrini, of “You Can Tell Just by Looking”: And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People, published in 2013 by Beacon Press. He is writing an archival history about the love between two men who served in the American Civil War to explore the workings of the American “Union.” More generally he is interested in how emotion congeals around questions of sex and opens onto broader questions of social organization.

Karsten Lichau is a researcher at the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. His research interests include the historical anthropology of the body and the senses. In a current book project on the cultural and political history of the minute’s silence in Great Britain, France and Germany he examines how sound, emotion and religion interact in staging politics.

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