Thinking Historically about Medieval Emotions (pages 828–842)
Barbara H. Rosenwein
The recent focus on emotions in history raises numerous methodological questions. How are historians to approach texts that include emotions? This essay summarizes three dominant interpretative paradigms for interpreting medieval emotions. In the first, these emotions are seen as the uninhibited release of affect. In the second, they are viewed as well-understood modes of communication in a society that used gesture as often as it used words. In the third, they are understood as norms within an emotional community. Arguing that the latter two interpretations are fruitful, the author concludes by suggesting some methodological tools to help historians more rigorously assess and work with the emotions in the texts of the past.