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The Conflicted History of an Emotion

Barbara H. Rosenwein

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Tracing the story of anger from the Buddha to Twitter, Rosenwein provides a much-needed account of our changing and contradictory understandings of this emotion

All of us think we know when we are angry, and we are sure we can recognize anger in others as well. But this is only superficially true. We see anger through lenses colored by what we know, experience, and learn.

Barbara H. Rosenwein traces our many conflicting ideas about and expressions of anger, taking the story from the Buddha to our own time, from anger’s complete rejection to its warm reception. Rosenwein explores how anger has been characterized by gender and race, why it has been tied to violence and how that is often a false connection, how it has figured among the seven deadly sins and yet is considered a virtue, and how its interpretation, once largely the preserve of philosophers and theologians, has been gradually handed over to scientists—with very mixed results. Rosenwein shows that the history of anger can help us grapple with it today.

Barbara H. Rosenwein is professor emerita at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of numerous books, including Anger's Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages and Generations of Feeling: A History of Emotions, 6001700.

“In our own age, so driven by anger, Rosenwein’s tour de force is a historical primer on where the very idea of anger has come from, what it means, and what we can do to face it.”—Jacob Soll, author of The Reckoning

“A brilliantly rich investigation of the history, morality, functions, and conflicting ideas of an emotion that is all too frequently cast as either healthy or unhealthy, ethical or unethical, to be celebrated or to be overcome.”—Simon May, author of Love: A History

“This is a fascinating and ambitious survey of a range of takes on anger from many traditions and time periods. The interweaving of the solid history with contemporary issues is particularly stimulating, as is the recognition that the emotion can play a constructive role.”—Peter N. Stearns, author of Shame: A Brief History

ISBN: 9780300221428
Publication Date: July 14, 2020
224 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
13 color illus.
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