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Bridging History and Social Psychology

Bridging History and Social Psychology:
Emotion, innovation, and public opinion in early modern, enlightenment, and modern-day Europe

Sponsors: Teaching and Learning Centre (LSE); Society for Renaissance Studies
Organisers: Dr Koji Yamamoto (St Andrews), Vlad Glaveanu (LSE)

Context and goal:
Historians working on early modern and enlightenment Europe have been fascinated by themes such as emotion, innovation, and public opinion. While some attempts have been made to draw upon theoretical works of such influential thinkers as Durkheim, Habermas, and Schumpeter, relatively little has been done to learn from revisionist scholarship in other thriving fields such as social psychology. Building upon the successful workshop we held last year on the theme of public sphere, this one-day workshop provided historians with a unique opportunity to engage with social scientists and especially social psychologists working on the subject of emotion/subjectivity, innovation/creativity, public opinion/social representation.

We examined these themes in parallel sessions. Invited participants (PhD and postdocs) to speak about their own research for about 20 mins, and each session was chaired by established historians and social psychologists specialising on the subject. The workshop closed by bringing together conclusions from the three parallel sessions in an effort to reflect on and learn from different disciplinary approaches.
Expected outcome:
While using different types of evidence and rather specialised idioms, the kind of questions scholars ask are surprisingly similar across the fields: how are subjectivities constructed and expressed in relation to a particular time and place? What is the social value of creativity and of being an 'innovator'? How is public opinion formed and how does it shape the behaviour of different groups and communities? The workshop addressed these questions and many others and, in doing so, it will provide more rigorous analytical frameworks for scholars working on Renaissance and early modern Europe, while inviting social psychologists and social scientists to engage with 'fieldworks' from the early modern past, thereby refining their theoretical underpinnings. 

The fruits of this workshop was disseminated through teaching and research by participants within all partner institutions. To further expand this initiative, a network will be established for winning grants from AHRC and ESRC (among others), and for organising larger annual cross-disciplinary conferences from 2012.  It is envisaged that presentations from the workshop could be adopted for a special edition of History and Theory, to be co-edited by Koji Yamamoto (St Andrews) and Vlad Glaveanu (LSE).

Images from the day:

Event participants

Professor Ivana Markova

Discussants [Discussants [From left: Vlad Glaveanu, Prof. Ivana Markova, Dr
Cristian Tileaga, Prof. Mark Knights, Prof. Saadi Lahlou]]

History discussants: Prof. Liliane Hilaire-Perez (Paris); Prof. Ludmilla Jordanova (KCL); Prof. Mark Knights (Warwick)
Social Psychology discussants: Prof. Martin Bauer (LSE); Dr Sandra Jovchelovitch (LSE); Prof. Saadi Lahlou (LSE); Prof. Ivana Markova (Emeritus, Stirling)

The day's timetable: 

Opening Session: 10:00-10:45 Including presentation by Prof. Markova on 'Micro-history and single-case studies: method and explanation in history and in social representations'

Parallel Sessions: 11:00-13:00

Parallel session 1: Public opinion / propaganda in renaissance and modern day public spheres
1. Noah Millstone (Stanford/Harvard), 'What was "public opinion?" Propaganda and political subjectivity in early Stuart England'
2. Dr Gordon Sammut (Univ. of Malta), 'Representations from the past: Social relations and the devolution of social representations'
3. Dr. Cristian Tileaga (Loughborough University), 'Paradoxes of opinion and the recent past: Nostalgia and understanding positive public perceptions of communism'
Discussion chaired by Prof. Mark Knights (Warwick) and Prof. Martin Bauer (LSE)

Parallel session 2: Innovation and ingenuity in renaissance Europe and beyond

1. Dr Koji Yamamoto (St Andrews), 'The image of the projector and the pursuit of reformation in early modern knowledge economy: A case study of the Hartlib Circle'
2. Aurélien Ruellet (Tour), 'Indifferent to creativity? Social representations of inventors and projectors in France, 1600-1660'
3. Vlad Glaveanu (LSE), 'Social representations of creativity in a Western context'
Discussion chaired by Prof. Ivana Markova (Emeritus, Stirling) Prof. Liliane Hilaire-Perez (EHESS)

Parallel session 3: Subjectivity, emotion and affect in Renaissance Europe and beyond
1. Dr Bronach Kane (QMUL), 'The expression of emotion in the self and others: gender and subjectivities in fourteenth-century England'
2. Dr Simon Sandall (York), 'Emotions in common; protest and fraternity in the seventeenth-century Forest of Dean'
3. Giulia Liberatore (LSE), 'Guilt is the sign of a healthy heart: Newly 'practising' Muslims' experiences of transformation'

4. Simon Evans (LSE), 'Virtual Selves and Real Emotions'
Discussion chaired by Prof. Ludmilla Jordanova (KCL) and Prof. Sandra Jovchelovitch (LSE)

Concluding session:

Chaired by Prof. Saadi Lahlou (LSE) and Prof. Mark Knights (Warwick)