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Global Middle Ages Lecture Series 3: Emotions and the New Science of Human Nature, 1100-1300: Cross-cultural Perspectives on the History of Affectivity in Song Dynasty China and Medieval Europe by Curie Virág

The CEU Campus
Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

The period of the eleventh and twelfth centuries in China was an era of major transformations in cultural, political and intellectual life, characterized by a new interest in systematic, philosophical speculation, a flourishing of literature and the arts, and unprecedented advancements in technology, natural science and medicine. It was also a transformative period in the history of emotions: during this time, moral philosophers began to recognize the ethical importance of the emotions and their role in the psychophysical constitution of the human being. This affectivization of ethical discourse is particularly striking in view of the fact that a similar pattern of development can be traced in medieval Europe during the same period. Such a convergence represents a particularly rich opportunity at this moment in the study of emotions history given recent findings about the interdependence of the philosophy of emotions with natural scientific thought and medicine in both cultural traditions. This talk will examine these parallel findings and consider their significance and implications for the history of emotions more generally, and for the study of the Middle Ages from a global perspective.

Curie Virág holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University (2004). She is a frequent visiting professor at CEU, and also has taught as associate professor at the Department of East Asian Studies of the University of Toronto. She is an intellectual historian of premodern China, focusing on the history of ethics, moral psychology, and epistemology in the Warring States (4th-3rd centuries BCE) and Tang-Song (7th-12th centuries CE) periods. Her current book projects cover the evolution of thinking about emotions in premodern China from roughly 400 BCE to 1200 CE. Her research interest also includes landscape  theory, the phenomenology and ethics of visual practice, as well as conceptions and practices of memory.