The Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions, launched in November 2008, is the first research centre in the UK dedicated to the history of the emotions. One of its key objectives is to provide a focus for interactions between social and cultural historians of the emotions on the one hand, and historians of science and medicine on the other. It also seeks to contribute both to policy debates and to popular understandings of all aspects of the history of emotions.
At Wilderness (August 2015)
Is There Such a Thing as Western Contemplation? (with Jules Evans)
As mindfulness spreads through UK culture with all the ferocity of the grey squirrel, we explore the indigenous traditions of contemplation, and why they disappeared. With Jules Evans, author and policy director at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, we’ll look at how widespread Christian contemplation was in the Middle Ages and the various forms it took, from pilgrimage to contemplative theatre to contemplative knitting. Then we’ll explore why the contemplative tradition was attacked and banished by government, particularly by Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII. Finally, we’ll look at how the contemplative and mystic tradition evolved and took new forms, particularly in poetry. We’ll end with some reading and discussion of poetry by Emily Dickinson and the 17th century mystic-poet Thomas Traherne.
This event was programmed in partnership with the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary University of London.