Call for Papers: The spaces of anger(s) past. Understanding the globalA history of a multifarious emotion (antiquity to the present)

Radboud Institute for Culture and History (Radboud University), Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 23‐25 September 2020.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof Barbara Rosenwein (Loyola University Chicago)

Anger has long been understood as a basic, universal emotion. While this view remains pervasive in certain scholarly disciplines, a large group of emotion scholars has formed a radically different understanding. Since the 1970s, a growing number of anthropologists and historians (amongst others) has focused on the social and cultural construction and function of emotions. It was in this context that anger – albeit slowly and haphazardly – became the subject of serious scholarly research. During the 1980s, Peter and Carol Stearns pointed towards shifting norms and values with regard to the expression of anger. A decade later, Barbara Rosenwein focused on the social uses of anger in the medieval period. Since then, an increasing number of scholars has taken up the task of studying anger in a historical way (E.g.: Harris 2001; Stauffer 2007; Enenkel & Traninger eds 2015; Jensen 2017). Throughout these combined works, anger appears as a multifarious emotion, leaving us to wonder whether it is even possible to speak of one phenomenon (Rosenwein 1998). With so many different forms of anger – from the anger of the current ‘Zornpolitik’ to the moral anger lauded by medieval theologians – should we instead be thinking about a history of angers, plural (Dixon 2016)?

Building upon this line of thinking, we want to gain a more detailed understanding of how these different (types of) anger(s) took shape throughout history. More specifically, building upon the work of Benno Gammerl and Susan Broomhall this conference aims to explore the role of space and place in the social and cultural production or functioning of anger. Space has, as we all know, never been a mere backdrop for historical events. It both produces and is produced by the social and cultural phenomena that were grounded in it. Indeed, if there is anything all the angers of the past have had in common – from ancient times to the present day and from Paris to Beijing – it is the fact that they all took place in specific spaces. Even though it has become common practice to view emotions as embodied, historical attention for the relationship between space and emotion has, however, remained relatively sparse.

Following Susan Broomhall in her edited volume Spaces for feeling (2015), this conference seeks to define space in a broad way, looking at everything from concrete and physical spaces (e.g. city’s streets; living room; sports stadium) to conceptual ‘spaces’ (e.g. the nation; social media). The question
nonetheless remains how important those spaces were to the precise configuration and function of all those different types of anger. Did these different spaces produce different angers and if so, in what ways? Did different spatial contexts invite different types of discourses and practices? Did anger get knotted up with different types of emotions depending on the socio‐spatial context it operated in and did it have different social functions?

We invite proposals for individual (or multi‐authored) papers and for posters that explore the relationships between space, society and anger from one or more of the following perspectives:

  •  Did different types of places and spaces produce different types of angers: e.g. the private and the public sphere; commercial, political, memorial landscapes; physical and conceptual spaces, …; and vice versa: how did different types of anger produce different places?
  • Did anger get knotted up with different types of other emotions depending on the spaces in which it is embodied?
  • In what ways were the theoretical, philosophical, theological, social views on anger and the spatialized, embodied practices and expressions related to one another?
  • Did anger come about differently in high‐brow sources compared to popular culture? Do they talk about anger in different spaces? And how do we deal with potential discrepancies?
  • Were the different histories of anger translatable from one language into another? How do language barriers complicate writing a history of anger?
  • What methods do we use to study anger as an embodied practice? When do we know we are talking about anger and how can we understand the ‘nature’ of the relationship between anger and its spatial contexts?
  • Is it possible to speak of the history of anger, singular, in a global context? We are explicitly looking to explore the global history of anger(s) from the ancient period to today.

We invite abstracts for 20‐minute papers and proposals for posters.

Submissions for individual paper proposals should include: Name of presenter, paper title, abstract (200‐400 words) and brief bio (50 words).
Submissions for poster proposals should include: name of presenter, poster title, abstract (200‐300 words) and brief bio (50 words).

Please send all questions and submissions to Dr Anneleen Arnout ( or Dr Floris Meens (

Deadline for submissions is 30 April 2020. Applicants will be informed about the decision by May 15th


© KNHG 2023 Website: Code Clear