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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The past few decades have witnessed a surge of interest in emotion as a subject of study across the disciplines. This has generated important interdisciplinary conversations, opening up new methodologies and new fields, including a field with special relevance to medievalists -- the history of emotion. How can specialists in Middle English literature contribute in more visible and fruitful ways to the history of emotion? This article gestures towards some ways of bridging the disciplinary divide between literature and the history of emotion. It advocates an approach that does not dismiss, but embraces, the "literariness" of literature as a site for the making of emotion in history. It invites Middle English scholars to consider literary texts as scripts for the production of feeling, and it explains how the concepts of performance and performativity can generate new ways of thinking about emotion historically. Finally, it illustrates a method for reading Middle English texts as scripts for the making of emotion in history by analyzing two texts, The Wooing of Our Lord and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in their historical contexts.

Keywords: emotion, history of emotion, literariness, emotion scripts, performance, performativity, Middle English literature, The Wooing of Our Lord, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, history of feeling

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