From the social construction of emotion to the emotional construction of society
Professor Angelos Chaniotis (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA)
Abstract. The very first word of European literature is a word of emotion: ‘wrath’. The study of this emotion is the subject of the Iliad, the first European literary text. The source material from ancient Greece (literary texts, documents, curses, prayers, epitaphs, works of art) permits the study of the social and cultural factors that continually affect the evaluation, control, arousal, and display of emotions. For such a study, valuable insights are offered by linguistic expression (metaphors, metonyms, alliteration, repetition, emotional language, ‘politeness’). Theoretical models (emotional regime, emotional script, emotional community) can be used as heuristic tools. The ultimate aim of a historical study of emotions in ancient Greece, in comparison with the linguistic, textual, and artistic manifestations of emotions in other cultures, is to detect culture specific parameters that determine the role played by emotions in a given historical context. The aim of such a study is not only to understand the social and cultural construction of emotion, but also the emotional construction of society.