Prof. Catherine M. Clarke

Miracles and Time Machines: Affective Journeys into History

This lecture will take as a starting-point two miracles of the thirteenth-century Anglo-Norman saint, Thomas de Cantilupe (or Thomas of Hereford). The resuscitation of a hanged Welsh outlaw and the revival of a dead toddler, the medieval records of these miracles offer intriguing insights into emotional responses and the role of affect in devotional practices. But how can modern audiences engage with these remote, strange stories and their world? The St Thomas Way: a new heritage route from Swansea to Hereford (, is inspired by a medieval pilgrimage to the shrine of St Thomas in Hereford Cathedral, and uses digital tools and carefully-curated somatic experiences to catalyse affective engagement with multiple historical moments, in place. How does this experimental ‘time machine’ raise questions about affect, technology, and temporality? And in what ways can medieval ideas of miracles and relics themselves offer a framework for re-appraising the relationships between emotions and history?

Professor Catherine Clarke is a Professor of English at the University of Southampton. She was appointed to a personal chair in English at Southampton in 2012, having previously taught at Swansea University and Oxford University. Her own undergraduate and postgraduate studies were at Oxford University, the University of Reading and King’s College, London. Professor Clarke is a specialist in medieval literature and culture. Much of her research explores intersections between place, power and identity in the medieval period, as well as uses of the medieval past in later centuries. In particular, she is interested in medieval places and how we engage with historic environments today. Her work emphasises inter-disciplinary approaches, the use of new media or digital tools, and the value of collaborative and partnership activities which extend beyond academia.

She has given invited papers internationally, including at the University of Toronto, the University of Silesia, Poland, and the University of Edinburgh (Denys Hay Lecture, 2016). Conference plenaries include Digital Heritage, 2014 (University of York) and Lost and Transformed Cities, 2016 (University of Lisbon). She has held a Visiting Fellowship at the Lilly Library, University of Indiana, Bloomington. Her research takes her to fascinating places at home and abroad, including, recently, Hong Kong, Estonia and Ethiopia. She is a member of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (ISAS), Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland (TOEBI) and the CARMEN medieval network.

Dr. Kristine Steenbergh

The History of Emotions: Taking Stock

The history of emotions is coming of age as a field. Systematic efforts to analyze historical emotions began in the nineteen eighties, taking flight at the turn of the millennium. In the past eighteen years, the field has become a flourishing discipline. Emotion historians have shaped theoretical models to understand historical change in the experience and expression of emotions. Different methodologies and practices have been shaped to identify and study historical emotions in a broad variety of textual and material sources. Since research in the field often addresses an individual emotion in a specific time period, the time has come to take stock and converge its findings. What are the central questions in the field, which obstacles did it encounter in its growth, and what are possible future directions? As a starting point for “Emotions: Engines of History,” this lecture provides an overview of recent attempts to consolidate the field and sketches (interdisciplinary) possibilities for its future.

Kristine Steenbergh is a lecturer in English Literature, specialized in early modern English literature. Her research interests are in the cultural history of the emotions, ecocriticism / critical ecologies and the environmental humanities, and gender theory.

Her NWO VENI project Moving Scenes: Practising Compassion in Early Modern English Theatre will result in a monograph on the role of the theatre in experiencing and thinking about compassion in early modern English culture. She looks at the way the theatre intervenes in contexts in which compassion is perceived to be under pressure, both through its representations of compassion and through arousing compassion in audience members. Together with Katherine Ibbett (University College London) she is also editing a volume on Compassion in Early Modern Europe. Her most recent publication in the field of the history of emotions is the entry on “Cognition and Affect” in The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Steenbergh is involved in a project that seeks to recover the bodily experience of emotions in early modern Dutch plays using digital humanities tools: “Embodied Emotions: Mapping Bodily Expression of Emotions from a Historical Perspective.” Read more about this project on the website of the Amsterdam Centre for Cross-disciplinary Emotions and Sensory Studies(ACCESS).

Steenbergh is also a general editor of Cultural History, a journal published by Edinburgh University Press; a board member of the Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotions and Sensory Studies (ACCESS), and the Benelux Association for the Study of Art, Culture and the Environment (BASCE).