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Emotion et société urbaine (XIVe-XVIe siècle)

A corps et à cris : manifestation et représentation des émotions en milieu urbain (XIVe-XVIe siècle)

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Publié le samedi 18 mai 2002 par Natalie Petiteau


Dans le cadre du Pôle d’Attraction Interuniversitaire, réunissant les universités de Gand, d’Anvers, de Bruxelles, de Leyde et la Bibliothèque Royale de Bruxelles, l’université de Gand, à l’initiative d’Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin et d’Anne-Laure Van Bruae


Dans le cadre du Pôle d’Attraction Interuniversitaire, réunissant les universités de Gand, d’Anvers, de Bruxelles, de Leyde et la Bibliothèque Royale de Bruxelles, l’université de Gand, à l’initiative d’Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin et d’Anne-Laure Van Bruaene, sous la direction des professeurs Marc Boone et Hilde de Ridder Symoens, organise un colloque international au centre universitaire de conférences « Het Pand », à Gand, les 29 et 30 août 2003, sur le thème : « A corps et à cris : manifestation et représentation des émotions en milieu urbain du XIVe au XVIe siècle /Fever running in the blood : feeling and representing emotions in the heart of the town (XIVth-XVIth centuries) ».

Call for papers

Within the framework of the Pôle d'Attraction Interuniversitaire, a network bringing together the universities of Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Leiden and the Royal Library of Brussels, Ghent University, is holding an international colloquium in the university conference center, " Het Pand ", in Ghent from 29 to 30 August 2003, on the topic : " Fever running in the blood : feeling and showing emotions in the heart of the town (XIVth-XVIth centuries)/A corps et à cris : manifestation et représentation des émotions au cœur de la ville (XIVe-XVIe siècle)".
This colloquium is organised in the context of a vast inquiry about urban society during the late Middle Ages and the early Modern period.
The objectives of this colloquium, initiated by Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin and Anne-Laure Van Bruaene, and coordinated by professors Marc Boone and Hilde de Ridder Symoens are fully described in the website : The organizers expect from the participants a new approach to to their material with the aim of examining especially emotions, feelings, passions which appear in some contexts or follow some events. They know perfectly well that this kind of History is innovative and this is the reason why they give more than one year to the speakers to prepare their contribution. The languages used will be French end English.
Anyone wishing to give a paper at this colloquium should send a title and a 500 word abstract before the 1st of August 2002).
We look forward to welcome you in Ghent in August 2003. Yours sincerely.)

Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin et Anne-Laure Van Bruaene.


Whoever wonders about emotions and their expression in the Middle Ages (and more generally in history) has to discover Huizinga’s works. Reappraising his analyses, behind the criticism and praise peculiar to all pioneer studies, is not our point. In mentioning the name of that historian in the beginning of this introduction, we simply want to pay tribute to the one who introduced several leads to tackle the hard subject of emotions. From his point of view, even if it is a real challenge to comprehend the world of the mind and of the sentimental life, historians of medieval societies cannot help themselves from examining character studies to reconcile daily life and historicity .
Anglo-Saxon studies have proved since the beginning of the seventies that we can give historical meaning to fierce emotions like anger and fear, to mental suffering characterised by tears and pains, or even to the sudden feeling of aesthetic pleasure, mystical ecstasy and delight … all those emotions which put the breath of life into anonymous people crowded into our studies. Thus, the legitimacy of this colloquium has been proved and needs no further arguments. However, the wide range of problems that suggested such a topic evoques, requires precise definitions and target specifications.
Outside the debates of psycho-history, our study views the topic of emotions from the angle of social construction and civilization’s process. At the interface between mental life and physical reactions, emotion is an outward expression of sensibility, the immediate nervousness caused by some events. This notion of immediacy helps us escape two pitfalls. First, we have to distinguish causes and effects. Indeed, if violence sparks off fear, if dissatisfaction gives rise to anger, if the knowledge of comic literature allows us to understand laughter, they are just stimuli which show us the way to the emotions that they produce. Secondly, we must isolate the part from the whole. For example, if love feeds a thousand emotions, love is not an emotion. And it is the same for devoutness or aesthetic contemplation. Only the instant of disturbance, the violent, sharp and short-lived feeling can be classed in our thought’s categories. As a precaution, we shall also be careful to avoid anachronisms. The word “emotion” qualifies riots and popular outbursts which generate riots until the Renaissance and even post-Renaissance in England. So we have to find in other words the expression of emotion.
This last warning proves the necessity to resort to interdisciplinary. As art and literature collect and/or activate the evolution of sensibilities, researchers in those fields can be a valuable help for the historians’ inquiries. Because analogies are demonstration’s means in the Middle Ages, the choice of the words according to time, areas, people, events, could be claimed as an historical record of social conduct. In the same way, the mise-en-scène of the bodies, the attention paid to the grimaces of old men, the pains of the Pieta, the shame of Adam or the tenderness of Christ, and the evolution toward theatrical gestures, allow us to understand the more and more important – and perhaps the more and more organized – place of emotion in the iconographic medium.
Finally, emotions belong to social conduct which includes codes, habits, rites, actors and their theatre. It is the reason why the town reveals itself as an ideal context to articulate values, mentalities, customs, aesthetics, space and events. From the marketplace to the platform of the preacher, from processions to the stake where heretics were burned, from the space of the game to that of the riot, the town concentrates in its heart many occasions on which to stimulate both delicate and strong emotions. Three centuries (XIVth, XVth, XVIth) have been selected in order to insist on the evolution of the phenomena.
The purpose of the colloquium is to encourage different approaches (according to space, events, social categories, age, gender, place of individuals inside groups, etc.), and thus to suggest a more precise analysis of emotion as a new means of communication inside the town. Four arenas are proposed as a guideline :
- The demonstration of emotions.
- The meaning of emotions.
- The attitudes towards emotions.
- The use and the manipulation of emotions.

NB : le colloque se déroule du 29 au 30 août 2003

Pour tout renseignement, contacter :
(Contact addresses for all informations :)

Elodie Lecuppre-Desjardin,
Universiteit Gent,
Vakgroep Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis,
Blandijnberg 2,
9000 Gent,
e-mail :

Anne-Laure Van Bruaene,
Universiteit Gent,
Vakgroep Nieuwe Geschiedenis,
Blandijnberg 2,
9000 Gent,
e-mail :



  • Gand (Belgique)
    Gand, Belgique


  • jeudi 01 août 2002


  • émotions, villes, bas Moyen Age, renaissance


  • Anne-Laure Van Bruaene
    courriel : annelaure [dot] vanbruaene [at] rug [dot] ac [dot] be

Source de l'information

  • E. Lecuppre-Desjardin
    courriel : gilles [dot] lecuppre [at] libertysurf [dot] fr

Pour citer cette annonce

« Emotion et société urbaine (XIVe-XVIe siècle) », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le samedi 18 mai 2002,

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