Emotions lie at our very core as human beings. How we process and grapple with our emotions, how and what we emote, and how we respond to the emotions of others, constitute the essence of our social universe. In a very real sense, we exist only through the prism of our emotions.
And yet the profound effect of human emotion on history, politics, religion, and culture, remains underexamined. While the influence of emotion in such realms as American foreign policy has been well-documented, other emotional aspects of American history have escaped notice. What role, for instance, does emotion have in the practice of African American religion? How do shame and self- hatred influence American conceptions of identity? How does our emotional life change as we age? To what degree is American consumerism driven by basic human emotion?
With this landmark anthology, historians Peter N. Stearns and Jan Lewis provide a road map of the American emotional landscape. From the emotional world of working-class Massachusetts to the prayers of evangelical and pentecostal women and the gendered nature of black rage, these essays provide a multicultural snapshot of the unique nature, and evolution, of American emotions.