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In the Context of Change: Approaching Emotions and Objects of Material Culture (2/2)

Panel Chair: Barbara Schuler | Thursday, August 27, 1:30-3 p.m. | Venue

Every text and every material object – from architecture to food – is directly or indirectly related to emotions, either being shaped by emotions, aiming to evoke emotions, or stimulating emotional memories. All religious emotions (take fear of polluted and polluting things as an example) are to a great extent constructs of societies and cultures, and as such subject to historical change. The panel will explore how emotions and material objects are observed, described, evaluated, assigned roles, and used in strategies of persuasion; and how the ‘regime’, appraisal, control, and display of emotions changes depending on context, communication strategies, historical period, and ‘emotional communities’ (lay people, clergy, deities, members of specific traditions, elites etc.). Which material objects (iconography, clothing, religious art etc.) evoke which emotions in whom? Which emotions are encouraged (and at times exalted), and which are discouraged? These and similar questions will be asked all against the background of change.

Angelika C. Messner

The logic of the concrete in Chinese emotion practices

Sacred sites in Chinese history and present have been investigated in their multiple identities: As part of imperial ritual (Emperors throughout journeyed to sacred mountains in order to perform rituals to legitimate their political power), as part of mysticism, as part of life and fertility performances (women, as part of pilgrimage associations or with their family members, came to pray for baby sons) as part of death and purgatory sites (male villagers came to pray for departed ancestors), as part of Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist sites of worship and ritual, as sites for performing self-cultivation and rectification of the minds.

With a strong focus on practice and embodiment and by breaking away from a single discipline approach my paper is concerned with the question why people were supposed to achieve the Sacred. Here the idea of ‘inner pilgrimage’ played a crucial role: This idea promoted the perception of a body-self (shen 身), seen as the intrinsic space where the Sacred 'is located' and where it can be developed and lived with: This was impossible without a particular focus on the emotions.

Irene Galandra Cooper

Cose di casa: licit and illicit domestic piety in Cinquecento Naples

What did it mean to be a good Catholic in Renaissance Naples? Agnus Dei and rosaries were often recorded amongst the ‘Cose di Casa’ listed in post-mortem inventories at the end of the Cinquecento. Verbs and adjectives that accompany these long-gone religious objects, such as ‘a corona da dire’ or ‘la cara cona della nostra donna’, evoke the devotional nature of the object and emphasise the deceased’s piety. As practices related to these objects became signposts of new Christian vigour in the battle against heresy during the aftermath of the Council of Trent, these documents and objects tell the stories of devout Christians. However, Inquisition trials found in the Archivio Storico Diocesano of Naples convey another story. Focussing on case-studies, and combining a variety of sources, this paper will explore the licit and illicit use of small devotional objects at the pivotal moment of change following the Council of Trent.


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Thematic Outline

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