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RMA Thematic course: ‘History of Emotions’


It is a truth only recently acknowledged that emotions have a history and that history was full of emotions. Over the last two decades a growing number of scholars have devoted themselves to the study of the history of emotions. And in recent years a growing number of historians has started to pay more explicit attention to emotions in their histories. The history of emotions continues to be a burgeoning subdiscipline of history, which has been characterized by interdisciplinary and theoretical explorations and has proven to be methodologically challenging.

This course aims

  • to provide an overview of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that have shaped the field
  • to stimulate students to think through the methodological consequences of these different conceptualizations
  • to offer students experience in the practice of doing emotions history. application of these theories, concepts and methods in the analysis of primary sources

In practice, students will read and discuss a wide range of classic and recent theoretical texts, methodological articles and research articles. They will apply these theories, concepts and methods in the analysis of primary source material. Through the readings, discussions and practical applications students will

  • gain knowledge about the history of emotions
  • learn how to position themselves within the field
  • start to formulate answers to the big questions that have that have been central to the field, such as: What is an emotion? ? How can we study them as historians? How have they been historical? What continuities and changes have marked their histories? What place do emotions have in the explanatory frameworks of historians?

Dates and times

The course will take place at Radboud University Nijmegen (Erasmus Building) on the following dates:

    • 13 February 2024, 10.30-13.15 – Session 1 – Room E1.06
    • 20 February 2024, 10.30-13.15 – Session 2 – Room E1.06
    • 27 February: no session
    • 5 March 2024, 10.30-17.00 – Sessions 3&4 – Room E2.08
    • 19 March 2024, 10.30-17.00 – Sessions 5&6 – Room E1.06

Reading materials

The reading list will be made up of English secondary sources and we will discuss a given set of primary sources which will also be in English. Participants will nonetheless be able to use their own set of primary sources too.


Students will write a paper in which they use the theories, concepts, methods and insights from this course to write a methodological paragraph and analyze a (small set of) primary source(s) of their choice.

Course registration new RMA students

RMA students who start in 2023-2024 are not yet registered with a National Research School (this will be carried out by the local graduate schools in September), but can already enroll in our courses and activities. To secure your spot in this course, please enroll via the form below. In the remarks section. mention that you will start your RMA in September.

This course is fully booked. For a spot on the waiting list, contact

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This course is fully booked. For a spot on the waiting list, contact