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Spectrum of Emotions

From Love to Grief


Wojciech Drąg and Ewa Kębłowska-Ławniczak

The authors of this volume discuss the tangible need for a revision of the vocabulary of emotion used in literary criticism and culture studies. The articles offer a wide range of interdisciplinary approaches to emotional states such as love, shame, grief, nostalgia and trauma. They demonstrate that the once stable concept of emotion disintegrates in the course of re-evaluation and is replaced by such notions as affects, passions, feelings and emotions. This volume examines the representations of emotion in drama, poetry and prose – from the anonymous Court of Love (ca. 1500) to Ali Smith’s How to Be Both (2014) – as well as in life writing, music, the visual arts and theology.
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Editors’ Preface


The articles gathered in this volume under the umbrella term of a spectrum of emotions take as their point of departure the conviction that there is a tangible need for a revision of the vocabulary of emotion used in literary studies, culture studies and criticism. Spectrum of Emotions endeavours to propose a modest re-opening of this discussion, which in its preliminary format reveals a wide range of methodological, often interdisciplinary approaches as well as a spectrum of what have been traditionally defined as – paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw – pleasant and unpleasant emotions. The discussions contained in this volume demonstrate that the once stable and capacious concept of emotion disintegrates in the course of re-evaluations which re-introduce seemingly familiar but thoroughly redefined terms such as affects, passions, feelings, and emotions. The development of a distinct vocabulary of emotion and affect becomes the essential task of researchers and it commences with the differentiation between a range of internally coherent, conceptualizing, culturally, psychologically or sociologically constructed subjective emotions, as aspects of thought, and the non-subjective, often conceived as unformed, intensities of affect. Feelings may connote both affect and emotions but can be perceived as a bridging concept oscillating between emotion and affect. The following series of discussions has been ordered along the rationally formulated cognitive concepts of emotions which seem to prevail, with one or two exceptions, in the texts included in this volume. Notwithstanding the prevalence of the traditional approaches, traces of re-evaluations are to be found in most of the...

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