February 2024

Invitation: Pedagogy, Psychotherapy and Creative Practice in Twentieth-Century France: Comparative Perspectives

Please join us for an exciting event co-hosted by the QMUL Comparative Literature and Modern Languages Research Seminar and The Centre for the History of Emotions:

12.30–14.00, Thursday 4th April, 2024 (lunch provided)

in Geography 126, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS (see map here)

Encompassing discussion of figures whose trajectories traversed the domains of psychiatry, pedagogy and the arts in twentieth-century France — including Jean Dubuffet, Élise and Célestin Freinet, François Tosquelles and Frantz Fanon — the two papers will explore how interactions across these fields generated new conceptions of creative expression and collective life.

By delineating the historical, political and aesthetic circumstances that determined these exchanges between education, psychotherapy and the arts, the session invites discussion around disciplinary innovation in the contemporary moment.

All are very welcome! For catering purposes, please register for the event here:

Professor Jean Duffy ‘From psychiatrist to pedagogue, patient to pupil: Jean Dubuffet’s catalytic encounters with theory and practice’  (The University of Edinburgh)

Dr Richard Mason ‘Traits d’union: institutional psychotherapy, emancipatory pedagogy and the collective stakes of learning to read and write’ (Queen Mary University London)

Chaired by Professor Kiera Vaclavik, Director of the Centre for Childhood Cultures (QMUL)


Jean Duffy is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Edinburgh. She has published widely on the nouveau roman, on the relationship between literature and the visual arts, and on ritual, image, and artefact in contemporary French fiction. Her most recent book, Perceiving Dubuffet: Art, Embodiment, and the Viewer (2021), contextualizes Jean Dubuffet’s work within contemporary developments in phenomenology and examines the central role played by questions relating to embodiment in the evolution of his aesthetic thinking and artistic practice. She is currently preparing a second monograph on Dubuffet which will focus on his creative writings.


Richard Mason is Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University London. His research looks at conceptual exchanges between the domains of literature and education, primarily in French and francophone contexts. He is currently working on two projects: one on the relationship between learning to read and write and institutional and collective life in twentieth-century France; the second on the status of ‘education’ in Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu. Recently he has co-edited, with Kasia Mika, a special issue of the critical theory journal Paragraph, entitled Difficulty’s Knots: Disturbance, Untimeliness, Risk (March 2024), which looks at conceptions of difficulty across education and the arts and humanities.

January 2024

Centre for the History of the Emotions Annual Lecture 2024

Thomas Dixon, ‘From Passions to Emojis: Looking Back on Twenty Years in the History of Emotions’

Thursday 15th February, 2024

in person: 6-8.30pm (including reception), Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London Mile End Road London E1 4NS / online: 6-7.30pm

We are delighted that Prof. Thomas Dixon will be returning to QMUL to give the Centre for the History of Emotions Annual Lecture for 2024

Thomas Dixon was one of the founding members of the Queen Mary Centre for the History of Emotions, and its first Director from 2008 to 2017. His books include From Passions to Emotions (2003), Weeping Britannia (2015) and The History of Emotions: A Very Short Introduction (2023). Thomas left QMUL in 2023 to pursue a new career, and in this lecture he looks back on his time as a historian of emotions, offering thoughts on his own contributions to the histories of passions, tears, anger, love, friendship, and insect emotions – and also on the ways that the QM Centre for the History of Emotions has connected with the wider world through its audio productions, its work with schools, and the “lost emotions machine”. Finally, Thomas will discuss what the difference is between passions and emojis, why it matters, and what the future might hold for the history of emotions.

The lecture will be a celebration of Prof. Dixon’s invaluable legacy to Queen Mary, to the Centre for the History of the Emotions we founded in 2008, and to the steadily growing community of scholars working on the philosophy, science and history of emotions. You can choose to attend:

In person: 6-8.30pm (including Q&A and reception), Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London Mile End Road London E1 4NS (see map here). Doors at 5.45pm. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Arts Two Foyer at 7.30pm.


ONLINE option, via zoom, 6-7.30pm (with Q&A). You will be sent the details via Eventbrite (if you choose the online option), but you should just be able to click the link below and join once the webinar starts (no passcode and no verification are required):

Webinar ID: 823 3731 4439

   If you wish to attend, please ensure you get the correct ticket when you register on  Eventbrite (now updated with both in-person and online options). If you have already registered through Eventbrite to attend in person but can no longer do so, please cancel your in-person (or general admission) ticket. If you wish to attend online, please ensure you choose the online ticket option on  Eventbrite.

A recording of the lecture will be posted on the Centre for the History of Emotions webpage in due course.

Please contact with any queries.



September 2023

‘What is the vision for the future of medical education… AI of course! That’s Affective Intelligence’ Inaugural Lecture of Professor Arunthathi Mahendran

Inaugural Lecture of Professor Arunthathi Mahendran
Event organized by the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London

Date: Thu, 14 September 2023
Time: 5.30pm
Location: Hybrid Event | Online | Perrin Lecture Theatre, Whitechapel Campus, London E1 2AT, United Kingdom
Registration: Eventbrite

Please note that this is a hybrid event with an option to attend in person or join online.
5.30pm – Event starts, Introduction of Professor Arunthathi Mahendran
5.35pm – What is the vision for the future of medical education… AI of course! That’s Affective Intelligence’
6:20pm – Reception

August 2023

New Publication

Elena Carrera, Boredom, Elements in Histories of Emotions and the Senses (Cambridge University Press (2023), is now available in print and also as Open Access, free to download at:

January 2021

Seminar Series 2020-2021: Crowds, Affects, Cities 

The Crowds, Affects, Cities seminar series continues through 2021. Jointly convened by QMUL Centre for the History of Emotions and the QMUL City Centre, the seminar explores crowds, emotions and urban space.
Please contact Regan (, Pen ( or Tiffany ( for the Zoom details

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November 2020

Seminar Series 2020-2021: Crowds, Affects, Cities

The QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions and The QMUL City Centre are jointly convening a seminar series in 2020-1 to explore crowds, emotions and urban space.

The State of Unrest: Crowds, Protests, Atmospheres, Dr Ilan Wall, Wednesday 2nd December, 1-2pm

Collectivity and Affect in Crisis Times: Dancing in Berlin, 1989-2020, Dr Ben Gook, Wednesday 16th December, 8pm – NOTE DIFFERENT TIME

Register your interest by contacting and we’ll send you the Zoom link.

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August 2020

A short history of solitude

A new three-part series for BBC Radio 4 exploring the surprising and emotional history of solitude across the centuries starts today. The series is presented by Professor Thomas Dixon of the Centre for the History of the Emotions and was made during the lockdown of Spring and Summer 2020

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Covidoscope Project Launch

The Covidoscope Project, for which Tiffany Watt Smith acted as consultant, has now launched. Created by the Turkish Yunus Emre Institute, it charts the emotional upheavals of the early months of the pandemic through  popular artworks from more than 40 countries. Find out more here

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July 2020

Success for The Sound of Anger at the British Podcast Awards

The Sound of Anger was named overall winner of two awards – Smartest Podcast and Best Wellbeing Podcast – at the British Podcast Awards ceremony held virtually on Saturday 11th July.

Judges of the Best Wellbeing Podcast described The Sound of Anger as a ‘focused and in-depth exploration of a familiar and difficult feeling – featuring a strong host, as well as a creative blend of sound, drama, and expert analysis. The experimental approach to this genre of podcast feels both valuable and refreshing.’

Listen to The Sound of Anger on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

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June 2020

The Sound of Anger receives 3 British Podcast Awards nominations

The ‘Sound of Anger’ podcast series has been nominated for three awards at the 2020 British Podcast Awards: Best Wellbeing Podcast, The Creativity Award, and Smartest Podcast.

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February 2020

‘The Enigma Emotion’ – Tiffany Watt Smith Gives Lecture for 50th Darwin College Lecture Series

On 14th February 2020, Tiffany Watt Smith gave a talk in the 50th Darwin College Lecture Series entitled ‘The Enigma of Emotion’.  You can see the talk here: 

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January 2020

‘Schadenfreude and Drag Queens: Improvising Emotional Styles’

On 18th January 2020, Tiffany Watt Smith gave the keynote lecture ‘Schadenfreude and Drag Queens: Improvising Emotional Styles’ at the conference ‘Carving Out a Space for the History of Emotions’, held at University College Dublin.
You can listen to her lecture as a podcast here:

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October 2019

Professor Thomas Dixon on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze

Professor Thomas Dixon will be on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Moral Maze’ today to discuss ‘The Morality of Anger’.


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The Sound of Anger

The Sound of Anger is the new Living with Feeling podcast series of features, drama, and debates about all things furious, vengeful, and irate. You can subscribe via iTunes and Apple Podcasts to find out what anger is, how it feels, and what it’s good for.

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Jules Evans’ Book Inspires Performance

Gisèle Vienne has created a time-bending piece of ‘physical philosophy’, partly inspired by Centre for the History of Emotions member, Jules Evans’ book The Art of Losing Control

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July 2019

Tiffany Watt Smith: The Why Factor

Living with Feeling Project Research Fellow and Centre for the History of the Emotions member, Tiffany Watt Smith, was interviewed about her new book Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another’s Misfortune for The Why Factor, BBC World Service, on Monday 8th July. You can listen again here!

March 2019

BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Lecture: Feelings, and Feelings, and Feelings

Professor Thomas Dixon will give the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Lecture entitled ‘Feelings, and Feelings, and Feelings’, at 22:00 on Friday 29th March at the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival at the Sage Gateshead.

Many of us still remember the images of Paul Gascoigne crying at the 1990 World Cup, Mrs Thatcher’s red eyes on leaving Downing Street, and the national mourning for Princess Diana. Over twenty years later, the tide of tears shows no sign of receding. From public inquiries to primetime TV, the Premier League to Prime Minister’s Questions, emotions seem to be everywhere in public life. With a cool head and some much-needed historical perspective, Professor Thomas Dixon opens the Free Thinking festival 2019 by showing that our emotions themselves have a history.

In recent decades, some scientists have claimed there are just five or six ‘basic emotions’, but the category of ‘emotions’ did not exist until the nineteenth century, and history reveals a much richer picture of passions, affections, and sentiments. Ranging from revolutionary feelings and the sentimental tales of Charles Dickens to the poetic rage of Audre Lorde, Thomas Dixon paints a historical panorama of emotions and ends by asking what we can learn from our ancestors about the value of stoical restraint. The lecture will be followed by an interview conducted by Matthew Sweet and questions from the Free Thinking Festival audience at Sage Gateshead.

Thomas Dixon was the first director of Queen Mary University of London’s Centre for the History of the Emotions, the first of its kind in the UK. He is currently researching anger and has explored the histories of friendship, tears, and the British stiff upper lip in books Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears and The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain.

More information can be found here and if you miss the broadcast you’ll be able to listen again here.

February 2019

We’re Hiring!

We are looking to recruit an Engagement and Impact Manager to work on our Wellcome Trust Humanities and Social Science Collaborative Award: ‘Living With Feeling: Emotional Health in History, Philosophy, and Experience’. The award, which began in September 2015, supports an ambitious programme of interdisciplinary research and public engagement into the history and meanings of ‘emotional health’.

As Engagement and Impact Manager, you will be responsible for ensuring the successful planning, delivery, and implementation of the engagement work of the project, working closely with the Principal Investigator, the Project Manager, and the project team. You will plan and implement initiatives promoting historically informed visions of emotional health to a range of professional and public audiences. This will include devising and delivering methods for the collection of evidence of impact for the purposes of REF impact case studies, including working with the team on the launch of a new website, a series of podcasts, and an exhibition on the theme of nursing and emotions.

For more information and how to apply please see here.

January 2019

The Gut Instinct: A Social History

Centre Director, Dr Rhodri Hayward, was featured on episode 4, ‘The Disease of Civilization’, of the BBC Radio 4 Programme, ‘The Gut Instinct: A Social History’ that aired on the 27th of December 2018.

Dr Elsa Richardson, who completed her PhD at the Centre, was the series consultant.

All the episodes are available to listen to here!

October 2018

Autumn 2018 Events

Over the next few months, the Centre for the History of Emotions is running a series of events. Click through to Eventbrite for further information and to book tickets.

16/11/18 – My First Death

22/11/18 – Annual Lecture: Anger, Fast and Slow

27/11/18 – Professor Jean-Jacques Courtine, Fear in an Age of Anxiety 

03/12/18 – Professor Jean-Jacques Courtine, Madness in Paris, Paris in Madness 

11/12/18 – Professor Jean-Jacques Courtine,The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. The Evil of Banality and the History of Emotions

July 2018

Save the Date: Annual Lecture, Will Davies

Save the Date! On the evening of the 22nd November 2018, Dr Will Davies from Goldsmiths will give our annual lecture. Everyone is welcome and the talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

Stay tuned for further info and we hope to see you there!


December 2017

New Book by Jennifer Wallis

Jennifer Wallis’s monograph Investigating the Body in the Victorian Asylum: Doctors, Patients, and Practices is out now!

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Jules Evans is ‘philosopher guru’ for BBC Radio 4

Jules Evans was the resident ‘philosopher guru’ for BBC Radio 4’s recent series ‘My Life As A…’. You can listen to the three episodes he featured in using BBC Iplayer.

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Events Spring 2018

Our programme of lunchtime seminars for Spring 2018 is now available.

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October 2017

What actually makes replicants want to cry?

Find out by reading Richard Firth-Godbehere’s article for Gizmodo.

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September 2017

Centre for the History of the Emotions Events 2017-18

Find out about our 2017-2018 events program.

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Jules Evans discusses history of the emotions with Clare Balding

If you’d like to hear Jules Evans discussing the history of the emotions with Clare Balding then you are in luck!

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New Centre Director

As of September 2017 Elena Carrera is the new Director of the Centre for the History of Emotions.

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The Art of Losing Control by Jules Evans

Jules Evans’ new book The Art of Losing Control: A Philosopher’s Search for Ecstatic Experience was published by Canongate books in April 2017.

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Thomas Dixon on BBC Radio 5 Live and Proms Extra

Hear Thomas Dixon on various BBC programmes…

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Philippa Perry interviews Tiffany Watt Smith

Listen to Philippa Perry interview Tiffany Watt Smith  on BBC IPlayer.

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July 2017

Annual Lecture – Save the Date!

The 2017 Centre for the History of the Emotions Annual Lecture will be delivered this year by Professor Sianne Ngai, Stanford. The lecture will take place on 16 November at QMUL (Mile End).

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Emotion in the City

Explore the experience of emotion in the city with the Centre’s Tiffany Watt Smith tonight at the Museum of London. Entry includes a drink.

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June 2017

Have selfies ruined the smile?

Read about recent press coverage of Colin Jones’s book The Smile Revolution

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Jules Evans on BBC Radio 3: Free Thinking

Miss Jules Evans’ excellent contribution to BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme on Wednesday 31 May? Never fear, you can listen again on Iplayer.

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May 2017

Reviews of Books by Project Members Round Up

In case you missed them, here is a round up of recent reviews of books by members of the ‘Living with Feeling’ project.

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Helen Stark’s Book Chapter Published in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and British Romanticism

Helen Stark’s book chapter ‘”Rousseau’s Ground”: Locating a Refuge for the Libertarian Man of Feeling in Julie, or the New Heloise and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage‘ was published this week in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and British Romanticism: Gender and Selfhood, Politics and Identity.

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‘What is Anger?’: Thomas Dixon research seminar at University of Hull

Thomas Dixon will be giving a paper titled ‘What is Anger?’ at the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures, University of Hull on May 10 at 4pm.

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April 2017

Jules Evans on Start the Week

If you missed Jules Evans asking whether art galleries and theatres can really help us come together, lose control and connect with something beyond ourselves on Start the Week on Monday 24 April 2017 you can listen again on the BBC Radio 4 website.

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Thomas Dixon discusses Princess Diana, Prince Harry and Stiff Upper Lip on Today programme

If you missed Professor Thomas Dixon discussing Prince Harry, the death of Princess Diana in 1997, and the history of the stiff upper lip on 18 April 2017 then you can listen to his segment on the Today progamme website.

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March 2017

Rhodri Hayward’s article on Busman’s stomach published in ‘Contemporary British History’

Rhodri Hayward’s article on Busman’s stomach, ‘Busman’s stomach and the embodiment of modernity’, has been published in Contemporary British History.

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Spring Newsletter

Find out the Centre’s news in our Spring Newsletter

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The Victorians are to blame for assumptions that self-harm is just attention-seeking – Sarah Chaney in The Conversation

Find out why the Victorians are to blame for assumptions that self-harm is just attention seeking in Sarah Chaney’s article for The Conversation.

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5 things you didn’t know about self-harm

Read Sarah Chaney’s article, ‘5 things you didn’t know about self harm’ in Metro

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Thomas Dixon responds to psychologist Agnes Moors on emotions

Professor Thomas Dixon is among several emotions researchers from different disciplines offering their responses  to an important new article by the psychologist Agnes Moors in the latest issue of Psychological Inquiry.

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February 2017

Sarah Chaney, Psyche on the Skin, out now!

Sarah Chaney’s monograph Psyche on the Skin: A History of Self-Harm (Reaktion, 2017) is out now. Read QMUL’s press release to learn more. 

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Mervyn Millar Guest Artist at 2017 Eugene O’Neill National Puppetry Conference

In June, Leverhulme Artist-in-Resident Mervyn Millar  will be a guest artist at the 2017 Eugene O’Neill National Puppetry Conference.

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London SadFest, 3-5 March, Genesis Cinema, Mile End

Centre member Åsa Jansson will be speaking after the showing of The Elephant Man as part of the London SadFest, 3-5 March. London SadFest is a unique film festival that celebrates and explores the world of sad films

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Jules Evans on ‘Ovid in Changing Times’, BBC Radio 4

Listen to Jules Evans’ take on Ovid and history of emotions on BBC Radio 4.

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January 2017

Funded PhD Studentship on ‘Living with Feeling’ Project

The Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London invites applications from outstanding post-graduate students wishing to pursue doctoral research into aspects of the histories of emotions and health. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2017.

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