‘Who Will Write the History of Tears?’ History of Ideas and History of Emotions from Eighteenth-Century France to the Present

History of European Ideas 40 (4):1-17 (2014)

The aim of this article is to shed light on the methodological relationship between the history of ideas and the history of emotions, starting from the conception of weeping in the eighteenth-century French reflection. This period was critical for the defining of the modern concept of emotion because it encompassed the development of a new aesthetic and moral code centred on the exasperation of sensitivity and an exaggerated use of tears. This study brings out, in terms of methodology, the importance that the analysis of tears assumed from two points of view: on the one hand, it places the problem in a framework determined by history and culture ; on the other, it recognises the unavoidable axiological and moral element that characterised crying . After a brief reconstruction of the discussion of tears in the history of emotion—from the histoire des mentalités to the ‘emotional turn’—and in the history of ideas, respectively, the article outlines some potential areas for research in an interdisciplinary perspective
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DOI 10.1080/01916599.2013.826430
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