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Contagious Feelings

Two boys performing as strongmen.

This project traces the history of contagious emotions and attempts to contain them since the beginning of the nineteenth century. It will investigate how doctors and psychologists have tried to define the perfect level of imitation necessary for emotional health – and how they used circus tents, puppet shows and actors to do it. It will deal with experiments staged in laboratories and military hospitals, but also in fairgrounds, sports-fields and nurseries, asking how performative techniques have shaped ideas about the imitative body.

The Contagious Feelings strand is led by Tiffany Watt Smith,  Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance